CUTX ramps up testing for COVID, antibodies

Credit Union of Texas is hailing the results of a program it says has helped keep employees safe and on the job during the pandemic.

In July, CUTX rolled out free COVID-19 antibody testing for its 409 employees and since then has performed nearly 600 of the tests. The credit union contracts with Kai Medical Laboratories to perform the testing and employees are not required to participate.

A CUTX employee is tested for COVID-19 as part of the credit union’s on-site testing program.

Each test determines whether the person has previously had the coronavirus and whether they currently have it. For those who do screen positive for the virus, another on-site test can immediately be done to confirm infection.

“We do the nasal swab, pick their brains and all that,” quipped Jennifer Olvera, VP of engagement at the Allen, Texas-based institution.

Out of more than 85 COVID tests since July, a small handful have revealed positive cases, added Olvera, including some instances in which employees were asymptomatic.

“We found out they actually did have COVID and we were able to get their families tested and keep them away from everybody and hedge our risk with them getting out of the office before they started showing symptoms,” said Olvera.

Some employees never showed symptoms during the quarantine period but others eventually did, she added.

In those instances when a staff member appears to have a positive case, “an RN in a full hazmat uniform, so to speak, goes to their car and does the testing.” Testing has also expanded from just employees to their families, including children as young as 3 years old all the way up to employees’ parents and grandparents living in the same home.

What began as a monthly offering has grown more frequent throughout the fall as the pandemic has worsened and eligibility for the program expanded. The credit union spends about $7,000 each month for the service.

“What used to be COVID protocol is now daily business,” Olvera said. “In order for us to continue to help reduce that risk for exposure to our members and our employees, it’s something we’ll continue to do.”

Testing is expected to continue well into 2021. During the holiday season, technicians are on-hand every other week, but the program is expected to return to a monthly schedule in January.

“It’s human nature to try to get a little lax,” said Olvera. “If I’m around my employees or friends, it’s easy to take down the mask [until] you realize…having no symptoms could still mean you have it. So how do I protect my members and anyone else? When we start seeing people popping positive for test results, it’s just a reminder we can’t have a false sense of security.”

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