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Molly Hulsey //March 23, 2020//


Molly Hulsey //March 23, 2020//

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Coping with COVID

SC Biz News is speaking with small businesses and community leaders about the impact of the new coronavirus on business and industry, and how this is changing how they operate.

Contact Ross Norton, [email protected], with any questions or ideas.

As the demand for COVID-19 test kits met an all-time high last week, at least one Greenville company, CPT Medical, in conjunction with Premier Medical Laboratory Services, has heeded a call for more domestic production.

The surgical tray manufacturer expects to produce 54,000 COVID-19 test kits three weeks after Connie Liesman, CPT Medical’s CEO and founder, decided to make the commitment.

“As everyone knows, the country is in trying times,” Liesman said. “Everyone needs to look at this in a way of being a patriot: How are we going to pull together as a country to beat this enemy and to win, for the country to come out ahead of this, not only to beat the virus, but also to keep our economy moving forward and actually being stronger than we were before?”

Producing 10,000 testing kits a day, the Greenville manufacturer will have 95,000 kits ready for distribution to hospitals, nursing homes and doctors’ offices in South Carolina and across the nation in roughly two weeks. Liesman said CPT can double its production if needed.

Being a company that customizes surgery kits to suit customers’ shifting needs, CPT Medical acquired verification from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and launched production in about a week without major equipment or training overhauls, Liesman said. She also credits a “very seasoned” clinical prototype specialist for the company’s swift turnaround, along with employees’ willingness to work beyond regular business hours. Management staff members have been working more than 12 hours every day to streamline the production of test kits and CPT’s regular products.

“We are a nimble company, so that does assist us to be able to make those changes quickly,” she said. “In our surgical pack company, we have purposefully designed our company to be nimble, because when you are talking about surgery packs, one of the key elements in the industry is that we can make changes to the surgical packs as necessary within a short period of time compared to industry standards.”

In contrast to standard surgical packs, which may contain 50 to 60 sterilized items, Liesman said COVID-19 test kits hold only a few items. Fewer pieces, along with the cancellation of many elective surgeries — and thus a decline in demand for CPT’s regular products — has helped expedite production.

Though kits are bound to customers across the country, CPT will give preference to the local market in South Carolina and Georgia. CPT is also developing home testing kits to be used via telehealth services, according to a recent news release, and is coordinating with manufacturers to meet the state’s personal protective equipment shortage.

“We recognized that for the country, time was of the essence. Everyone participates in a different way, and honestly, for all the people who are quarantined and staying home and are having to sacrifice their jobs right now, they are patriots too. We are working together through this as a country, and we recognized that for us — what we could do — this was our largest contribution to be able to overcome this crisis,” Liesman said.