Iram Chaudhary, Molecular Supervisor, Marlborough, Massachusetts, tells her story:

“I was promoted to Molecular Supervisor in mid-July and I’ve been in charge of training personnel in the department specifically for COVID-19 testing. This includes everything from acquiring and organizing samples, testing using 3 different platforms, and evaluating results.

We’ve never seen the volume of work that we’ve had since the pandemic started. Our lab gets thousands of samples every week, mostly from the northeast part of the US, but some come from as far as Dallas. Once our lab receives them, the samples are organized according to first in, first out.  

We just started a new process called pooling. In this method, instead of testing one sample at a time, we can test 4 samples in one well. We use this method to test the samples received from areas with low positivity rates. Testing in groups allows us to save time and meet the increased demand. If a group comes back positive for COVID-19, we then check all 4 individually to find which specimen(s) are truly positive out of the 4.

Our sample volume has been exponentially increasing since March. Due to the intense workload, we run the lab 24×7, with morning, afternoon, and night shifts. I’ve sometimes had to work 24 hours straight, but on a regular basis, I cover the first and second shift. We even had to stay overnight in a local hotel while doing extra-long days. For the most part, Quest personnel were the only ones in the entire hotel—so we got to know the staff very well.

This has truly been a team effort at Quest. Everyone jumped on board to help–lab technicians, the supply replenishment team, management, the QMS team, and our cleaning crews who disinfect the labs throughout the day. I am so thankful for the help everyone has provided and so proud of all the cooperation and collaboration, and for the unwavering leadership, we’ve had.

I have felt the loss of loved ones and realize the importance of our work. This pandemic has helped me reconnect with the impact lab testing has on peoples’ lives. The most difficult part for me is being away from my family for extensive amounts of time. I can’t thank them enough for their understanding and support while we work toward bringing other families together.”