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UNR cancels contract with COVID-19 test provider Northshore Clinical Laboratories (updated)

By Bob Conrad
Published: Last Updated on

The COVID-19 testing provider that is under investigation by the state for its services to Washoe County is no longer going to provide those same services to the University of Nevada, Reno.

UNR officials today announced they are canceling the university’s contract with Northshore Clinical Laboratories “due to the institution’s dissatisfaction with Northshore’s service in helping to conduct on-campus COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff.” 

The contract ended today.

“This announcement does not in any way change our focus, which is to provide timely on-campus COVID-19 testing for our campus community,” UNR President Brian Sandoval said. “In addition to reaching out to the State of Nevada for assistance, we are also planning to explore additional resources from the region’s health organizations as well other University resources in order to meet the on-campus testing needs.” 

UNR’s student health center will continue to provide free daily COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff. The university’s COVID-19 dashboard shows more than 800 COVID tests performed per week on campus in January, and more than 1,100 performed in the first week of the year.

Company under investigation in at least three states

Northshore is reportedly under investigation by the state after an employee complained to KRNV that the company was defrauding the county.

“They’ve defrauded Washoe County, they’ve defrauded this community and they’ve defrauded the taxpayers,” the unnamed employee told KRNV. 

The employee said they were not provided enough protective equipment to do their jobs. A company spokesperson denied the claims. They said demand for tests was unprecedented and more than the company could process.

But other media have reported the Chicago-based company is facing investigations in Illinois and California, as well as federal government interest. Complaints were alleged before the surge of omicron cases. 

BlockClub Chicago reported the company is “under scrutiny after collecting more than $154 million from the federal government amid a sea of consumer complaints. The Better Business Bureau has given the company an ‘F’ rating.”

That was allegedly for not producing test results and for notable delays in providing results.

Similar complaints have been made in Las Vegas. The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services is the agency investigating Northshore for Nevada.

This Is Reno readers complained they had to wait more than a week for test results. This was after Washoe County announced four new testing locations operated by Northshore began COVID testing in early January amid a surge in demand due to the spread of the omicron variant.

The sites also had to close at one point due to staffing shortages and lack of supplies.

Update: Washoe County says it will continue contract with Northshore

Washoe County officials on Wednesday said they will continue to use Northshore Clinical Labs for testing at its four community testing sites.

“The University of Nevada’s agreement with Northshore Clinical Labs is different and separate than Washoe County’s. Very early on, Northshore indicated that they were not able to provide PCR testing in the community due to overwhelming nationwide demand on their lab and offered antigen rapid-tests only. We continue to review licensing status with the State of Nevada to make sure that the testing in our community meets the necessary requirements,” said county spokesperson Bethany Drysdale.

Drysdale added that Northshore provided services in the community during a period of unprecedented demand, which has quickly declined over the past week. She also added that the arrival of National Guard members will increase community testing capacity at the Reno-Sparks Livestock Event Center.

County District Health Officer Kevin Dick on Wednesday said it is the county’s choice, not the health district’s, to use the company.

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