Starting on 24 March 2020 as one of the first private labs authorized by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to conduct Covid-19 testing in India, Suburban Diagnostics – a pioneer in the medical diagnostics arena, now completes six months, testing over 3,00,000 patients for Covid-19. Suburban Diagnostics has witnessed a significant transition, upgrading infrastructure, technology, and operations from establishing dedicated and distinct centers for Covid and non-Covid tests to set up drive-through centers and multiple molecular bio labs to be playing a pivotal role in the nation’s corona war.
“We realized that our role is going to be extremely crucial in the country’s war against Covid-19, which led us to act on the front foot. The challenge was to accommodate maximum within the available resources and hence, building the necessary infrastructure and SOPs has been our first step to fight the crisis by reducing the turnaround time. We continue to make necessary additions to increase our capacities as the situation gets demanding by the day”, says Sushant Kinra, chief operating officer, Suburban Diagnostics.
With the Covid-19 tally crossing over 63 lakh cases in India, the company foresees expansion and infrastructure development as key to being a significant contributor to the Covid-19 crisis in the country. To speed up the process of testing, which would, in turn, lead to a better recovery rate, additional molecular bio labs have been set up by the company in Mumbai and Pune in August 2020, functioning 24×7, in multiple shifts. Starting with 200 tests daily in March 2020, the company has increased its capacities with manpower and infrastructure to be conducting 4000 tests daily, as of today.
“During the onset of the pandemic, it has been a huge learning curve to be tackling challenges, right from training our staff to work as Covid-warriors amidst the fear and crisis situation to the procurement of PPE kits and swabs. We are extremely thankful to our staff and their families for their understanding and support during these life-threatening times. We have witnessed Covid-heroes in our organization, who, in spite of falling prey to the virus have extended further support, along with their families. This has been invaluable and overwhelming for us,” he added.
Serving as a backbone in overcoming the crisis in Mumbai’s Dharavi area with their testing facility, the company has also met with BMC and ICMR rules and data management regulations. A special data management team was deployed to meet the turnaround time. “Arranging testing camps and explaining the purpose of testing or tracing to the people of Dharavi to calm their nerves and timely reporting helped to contain the virus in the most critical zone of India,” added Kinra. The company was also amongst the first labs in the country to start a drive-thru center in Mumbai. Before visiting the drive-thru collection center, one has to book online, fill up their details as required by ICMR, and make payment. At the drive-thru, the customer can display the online booking on his phone and get the test done while seated in his or her vehicle.
The company has extended testing facilities and devised guidelines to help businesses and MNCs embrace the new normal across various healthcare, government institutions, shipping, aviation, entertainment, corporates, and hospitality. The company is also serving as the only service provider at the Mumbai International Airport. They have facilitated extensive home visits with dedicated Covid and non-Covid technicians at homes and housing societies.
Currently, their antigen testing is powered by smart technology- an app developed by the company for Antigen testing at BMC sites that helps capture all ICMR mandatory details. This claims to fast-track the entire process, from registration to sample collection to report readiness within just 15 mins to support all BMC camps for antigen testing.