Freeman Health officials talk antibody testing, importance, changes coming to local testing

JOPLIN, Mo. – As we continue into a ‘recovery’ phase from COVID-19, doctors are now looking at antibody testing. Jasper County health officials have said they’re now receiving results from antibody tests. But, just what are they testing for?

Next week, Freeman Health System will be adding a service to their laboratory. Freeman Director of Laboratory services Karen Watts says “Monday is a very exciting day for the laboratory we will be able to offer total antibody testing for COVID, and by total antibody testing I mean we will be able to test for both the IgM and IgG antibodies for COVID.”

But why is total antibody testing important? Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dennis Estep tells us. Dr. Estep says “There’s two different antibodies, one of them is IgM and one of them is IgG, IgG tells you you’ve had a response to it, IgM is telling you that you’re in the middle of a response.”

You can get an antibody test but, there’s steps to follow. “Well it is a medical test so it has to be ordered by a physician, yes you should consult with your physician and decide, do you really need to be tested or not.”

But, if it is decided you should have one, the new on-site testing ability will be helpful. Because right now, Freeman has to send antibody testing off-site to a lab in Lenexa, Kansas. Watts says “The turnaround time currently is about 3 days, so, it’ll be a huge success for Freeman laboratory that we’re able to give same day turnaround times.”

Speeding up the turnaround times isn’t just beneficial for hospital staff, it’s beneficial to those getting tested as well. Watts says “Having faster turnaround times for the antibody testing will open up a lot of doors for people who want to return to work to prove that they are not currently infectious, or to prove that maybe they’ve had a past infection and they maybe have some immunity towards COVID.”

We reached out to Mercy Hospital as well and officials tell us they are working toward on-site antibody testing as well.