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Outside lab blames 'perfect storm' for delayed StarMed test results

Roughly 8,000 patients were impacted by the glitch.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Premier Medical Laboratory Services, a company StarMed uses to perform COVID tests at their overflow lab, spoke out about the recent delay of thousands of results. 

Last week, Starmed CEO Mike Estramonte told WCNC Charlotte's Hunter Sáenz that a glitch causing delays in the distribution of COVID-19 test results for some StarMed patients had been resolved. Sáenz reached out to the head of the popular coronavirus testing clinics to seek solutions for WCNC viewers who said they were experiencing extensive delays in receiving test results. 

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Roughly 8,000 patients were impacted by the glitch, according to StarMed.

CEO Mike Estramonte released a statement Monday, addressing the delay that impacted thousands of North and South Carolinian's COVID-19 test results.

While the glitch was resolved, some people still haven't gotten their test results. Estramonte said the issue was identified on Jan. 6 and corrected on Jan. 7, but an additional number of tests were still not available within the standard timeline.

RELATED: Glitch, now resolved, causes delays in receiving COVID-19 test results from StarMed

"How about the people who can't go to work until they have a negative test result, which is most of America?" Jessica Mokhiber-Palmer told WCNC Charlotte. "And how about the people with children who are maybe perhaps too young to be vaccinated, and they are trying to parent and isolate themselves from their kids? So for me, it is a frustration but for some people, this is much much more than that."

On Tuesday, Premier Medical Laboratory Services released a statement taking the blame for the backlog of test results and said it was due to a perfect storm of circumstances. 

"With the current surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the new variants, our laboratory has been asked to process an unprecedented number of specimens from many testing sites across the country in the past few weeks," Kevin Murdock, CEO of PMLS, said in part in a statement. 

"We experienced a perfect storm of unprecedented volume, a significant number of staff contracting COVID-19, holiday delays, high positivity rates, shortage of supplies and technical problems receiving data files," it read in part. 

In an interview with WCNC Charlotte, PMLS's director of communications said they were working around the clock to get through the backlog of results. 

"Every test that comes to our lab is a person and we realize that and so that's why we are working 24/7," Kristina Loughrey said. "It's been just all hands on deck -- everybody has been pitching in and, like I said, staffing up."

She said PMLS is working to hire an additional 200 employees as soon as they can, and they've bought more lab equipment that will help make their turnaround time less than 24 hours for results. 

StarMed's Estramonte said in a statement released Monday that the company is reaching out directly to patients that were impacted, and is offering people another opportunity to get tested again. 

"Please know that we’ve been working around the clock for several weeks processing and reporting test results," Estramonte said in the statement. "No one at StarMed Healthcare is resting and we will continue that pace as long as necessary."

StarMed is getting 2,500 calls a day into its call center. To keep up, it's hiring extra staff and upgrading its system to handle the increased call center demand as the issue is resolved.

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