New ‘big cat’ of pathology arrives at Mackay Base Hospital

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

Mackay Base Hospital’s new rapid testing pathology instrument dubbed the ‘Panther’ is set to boost local COVID-19 and other respiratory condition testing capacity.

Assistant Minister for Health and Regional Health Infrastructure and Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said that the addition of the Panther to the Mackay Base Hospital would be a welcome addition to provide locals with world-class healthcare.

“The Palaszczuk Government is committed to investing in healthcare and services to make sure that people in the Mackay region have access to the best possible care and facilities,” said Mrs Gilbert.

“Having this state-of-the-art machine, which is worth more than $275,000, will make a huge difference to our community.

“The new Hologic Panther Fusion can diagnose COVID-19, influenza and other respiratory conditions in approximately three hours.

“When operating at full capacity the Panther is capable of testing approximately 750 samples a day.

“What this means is that locals will see faster turnaround times for testing results, which will make sure that people get the right treatment in the fastest possible manner.”

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath said that the Palaszczuk Government would continue to deliver a strong health response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“The delivery of the new Panther pathology machine to the Mackay community is an important part of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to ensure that Queensland’s health system remains strong while we manage the coronavirus pandemic,” said Minister D’Ath.

“Equipment like the new Panther pathology machine ensures that we can have a strong health response, and we can get on with the job of delivering Queensland’s economic recovery from the pandemic.”

The Panther uses Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing which is considered the most sensitive method for testing for COVID-19.

PCR testing amplifies viral genetic material by copying it over and over again so any trace of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be detected.

Chief Executive Lisa Davies Jones said the new machine meant more pathology samples could be tested in Mackay instead of Townsville. “Mackay HHS is a growing region and services a large population. Prior to having the Panther the Mackay Pathology Laboratory has only been able to offer PCR testing on limited pathogens using a small Point of Care analyser,” Ms Davies Jones said.

“The cost per test, and the limited supply of consumables to run the Point of Care PCR analysers meant that testing onsite was limited to urgent cases only.

“All routine samples had to be sent to Townsville or Brisbane Pathology Queensland laboratories, which delays the results, and therefore can sometimes delay treatment.

“Having a Panther at Mackay Base Hospital means all routine testing can now be performed onsite, resulting in faster turn-around-times for results,” she said.

In the unfortunate event of a positive COVID result, the earlier it is known, the earlier the Public Health Unit can intervene to help stop community transmission.

Ms Davies Jones said the Panther would process samples from around the health service including St Lawrence, Sarina, Proserpine, Bowen, Whitsunday Islands, Collinsville, Clermont, Moranbah, Middlemount and Dysart.

“The positive effect of having this machine will be felt beyond just Mackay which is great in our efforts to reduce the impact of respiratory conditions on our region.”

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