Kalispell Regional Medical Center 3D printing COVID-19 nose swabs for testing

KALISPELL- A new 3D printer at Kalispell Regional Medical Center is producing tools used to test people who may have COVID-19. 

KRMC biomedical staff said their facility got a 3D printer from the National Guard in May.

"It allows us to print out own COVID-19 swabs. They get distributed to Western Montana so we can run more tests," Michelle Mann a biomedical office assistant said. 

The 3D printer produces two batches of COVID-19 swabs, roughly 410 in each batch, or 820 per day. 

"I process them three different [sanitation] washes and two different drying processes," Mann said. "It’s about four hours for me to completely get through 410 of them."

After the washing and the drying process, the 3D printed nose swabs gets taken to the central sterile department at KRMC.

Each swab is put into its own sterile bag, labeled and put into a final baking process to ensure its sterile.

The swabs get set aside and every Friday the state goes to KRMC to pick them up. 70 percent of the swabs go to the state for testing, and 30 percent stay at KRMC to test each patient that walks into their facility.

Mann said KRMC and Billings are the only two medical center's 3D printing the swabs in the state. 

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