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Software Glitch Prevents Positive COVID Test Results from Being Transmitted in Timely Fashion to Public Health

Liberty, NY – Sullivan County Public Health Services is working closely with private healthcare provider Middletown Medical to quickly account for missing data arising from a software malfunction earlier this month.

On December 8, Middletown Medical implemented an automated system for reporting positive COVID-19 test results to the State and Sullivan and Orange counties’ public health departments.

“Some discrepancies were discovered this week following the implementation of the new system, as isolated portions of data from test results were not successfully delivered to the Sullivan County and Orange County Departments of Health by the software,” said Middletown Medical Communications Officer Caitlin Huebner.

“According to what we’ve been able to determine thus far, approximately 200 positive test results in Sullivan County, from tests as far back as November 25, were never received by our office due to this software glitch,” stated Sullivan County Public Health Director Nancy McGraw.

“We had received a few phone calls recently from residents asking why they had not been contacted by our office following notification by their healthcare provider of a positive COVID-19 test result,” McGraw added. “Our staff identified a pattern that many individuals had received their tests at the same location, and we notified the provider’s office, Middletown Medical. They recognized a software problem that prevented lab results from being automatically uploaded to the State’s Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System (ECLRS).”

Upon this discovery, Middletown Medical returned to manually uploading cases to the State.

“Middletown Medical’s staff personally advised all individuals – at the time they received their positive results – to quarantine and monitor themselves and their household members for symptoms,” McGraw said.

“Middletown Medical continues to work closely with both the Sullivan County and Orange County Health Departments to verify all results and communication protocols are successfully addressed at the county level,” stated Huebner. “In order to ensure proper patient reporting and prevent a lapse in county tracking, Middletown Medical is directing all patients who were tested at a Middletown Medical location and received a positive test result to reach out to their local county Health Department if they have not been contacted by their respective county officials already.”

Sullivan County Public Health Services can be reached at 845-292-5910. Orange County’s Health Department is available at 845-291-2332.

“While our staff work diligently to reach out to all the residents directly impacted, please feel free to call our office and ask to speak with a staff member in the Communicable Disease Unit and leave your name and phone number,” McGraw urged. “Also, please be patient with us if it takes a while to return calls, as there are close to 200 lab results to sort through in addition to the ongoing new daily lab results that our office receives from ECLRS reported by other area healthcare providers.”

“An important part of isolation is to identify all close contacts so that we can help limit further transmission of the virus and further community spread of COVID-19,” she added. “If you seek a COVID-19 test, you should immediately isolate at home until receiving your result. If it is positive, you must remain in isolation for 10 days to avoid transmitting the virus to household members you share the same rooms or bathrooms with, and they should quarantine for 14 days.  Routine disinfection of common areas should take place daily. If you test positive, do not share cups, utensils or food, and stay in a separate room if possible, or maintain a minimum of 6-10 feet away from family or other household members while wearing a mask, even indoors.”

The complete statement from Middletown Medical can be found here.