CommunityLabCOVID-19: Laboratory Serving Western North Carolina

December 9, 2020



ASHEVILLE, NC – Sanesco International, Inc. launches a new laboratory division, CommunityLab, a high-end molecular and diagnostic testing laboratory devoted to improving the quality of life for all people and communities in western North Carolina. The lab is dedicated to improving access to testing for rural, underserved, and minority populations.

Meeting the Testing Needs of Western North Carolina

With an investment of over $3.5 million, CommunityLab is a full-spectrum testing lab equipped with state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. As an immediate priority, CommunityLab will allocate resources to support the demand for COVID-19 testing in WNC. The lab is positioned to validate hundreds of other laboratory assays and aims to be a strategic, regional partner to act quickly and respond to the lab testing needs of WNC.

For detecting active viral infection for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, CommunityLab’s testing menu includes rapid antigen testing and RT-PCR testing with options for either nasopharyngeal (NP) swab or saliva specimen collection. The Yale School of Public Health granted authorization for CommunityLab to perform their SalivaDirect assay, a saliva-based diagnostic SARS-CoV-2 test that is simpler, less expensive, and less invasive than traditional NP swabbing. For recent or prior infection, CommunityLab offers antibody testing which is a serology test used to determine if a person might have developed an immune response against a pathogen or not.

“Lab testing is key to reducing the spread of COVID, and our mission to improve patient quality of life is more important now than ever as stress, mental health, and economic and financial concerns are at an all-time high amidst this global pandemic,” said Hector Romero, Chairman and CEO of Sanesco. “Western North Carolina is our home. We live here. We work here. Our kids went to school here. I am passionate about helping our community get through this pandemic. Providing reliable, fast, and accurate COVID-19 testing at our lab will not only help keep our friends, families, and neighbors safer, but it can provide more accessible testing options for the underserved and vulnerable populations who have been disproportionately affected.”

Meeting CDC biosafety guidelines for specimen handling and laboratory workplace safety is critical to keep employees safe and maintain integrity of the lab results. Going beyond requirements, CommunityLab’s floorplan includes a clean room providing additional protection from contamination and elevating quality control.

“CommunityLab has selected scientifically validated assays from reputable companies known for their superior products and quality,” said R.W. “Chip” Watkins, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer and Laboratory Director at Sanesco. “We have taken extreme measures in our laboratory buildout to ensure safety as our number one priority. By taking our time coming to market, we were able to learn from the mistakes of other laboratories and stay current on new research and scientific developments. We have great confidence in the validation of our testing methodologies, the level of specificity and sensitivity of our assays, and have developed a dependable supply chain and operational management structure.”

Strategic Collaboration with Dogwood Health Trust

The development of CommunityLab and collaboration with the WNC community is driven by the targeted investment and support of Dogwood Health Trust. Committed to putting the needs of WNC first, CommunityLab will allocate 10% of testing to serve the uninsured.

“When we saw the difficulty in obtaining access to fast, reliable testing in the early days of COVID-19, we knew we needed a home-grown solution that was dedicated to the health and well-being of people here in Western North Carolina,” said George Renfro, a Dogwood board member who chairs its Impact Investing Committee. “Sanesco was already exploring innovative ways to meet this need, so the timing of this investment was perfect. The fact that they will prioritize our region and provide free testing to uninsured individuals speaks volumes about their commitment to others.”

CommunityLab will manage mobile testing site events with same-day results available to the public. Testing will be open to anyone regardless of symptoms. Additionally, CommunityLab aims to partner with local businesses, hospitals, urgent cares, long-term care facilities, healthcare providers, faith-based organizations, research institutions, schools, and universities and can customize services such as medical courier pick-up or Spanish translators to meet each organization’s unique needs. To learn more or set up a testing account with CommunityLab, email [email protected] or call (828) 585-6443.

About Sanesco:

Sanesco International Inc. is a global leader providing specialty, neuroendocrine laboratory testing for healthcare providers, hospital networks, reference laboratories, and research partners for over a decade. Sanesco’s high-complexity, CLIA-certified clinical laboratory has tested hundreds of thousands of patients, amassing one of the largest repositories of human stress response data. Most importantly, Sanesco is driven by its mission to improve quality of life.