Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer
BioReference Laboratories, Inc., an OPKO Health company
The COVID Testing Site Maker
Like many diagnostic companies, BioReference was closely monitoring the pandemic situation as it began its global spread. Two things were clear: it was just a matter of time before COVID-19 reached the states and the country was unprepared for the massive testing push that would be needed. But the BioReference Executive Team was five steps ahead and Natalie Cummins was a key component of the plan.
Company leadership knew it wanted to help and decided to repurpose select labs in Q1 2020 to allow them to conduct PCR tests for COVID-19. However, this was not without its issues, including the general confusion surrounding the virus, the frequently changing national directives, and the dwindling and sometimes unavailable supplies. And yet, the BioReference Executive Team insured the first BioReference tests were up and running within weeks of the CDC opening testing to industry partners, and able to process up to 5,000+ tests per day.
Beyond those initial challenges, the country would soon be facing another testing crisis—lack of testing locations. BioReference devised and implemented the first drive-thru testing site in New York State. Shortly following New York, Natalie led partnerships with the city of Detroit and state of Florida to ramp up daily testing, analyze how scarce supplies could be deployed, and optimize logistics of moving specimens to BioReference laboratories.
When the pandemic began to wane in summer, the need for antibody testing became a competing priority, Natalie worked with a dedicated team to build this segment. The team built upon their model for drive-thru testing and created pop-up locations for antibody testing, as well as employer-based testing programs providing the business community additional information to make decisions for their organizations.
BioReference has performed 10 million COVID-19 tests nationwide with hospitals, physicians, retail, sport leagues, and government agencies and has been a significant contributor to our nation’s COVID-19 response. Natalie is honored to be a contributor in the pandemic response. “Natalie is one of those rare individuals who possess all of the qualities necessary for outstanding leadership,” says Kesha Walker, VP of Marketing and Communications, BioReference. “And her work has contributed to BioReference transforming into an industry powerhouse.”