WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Medical Labs of Windsor has been given the green light by the province to test for COVID-19.

After submitting multiple proposals starting in March, the lab has been granted licence by the Ministry of Health to perform testing at their Ouellette Avenue facility.

“We should never have been in a position where we had to send the tests to London or Toronto where we know their cases are higher and the possessing times for our area would be delayed,” said Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky.

According to Med Labs officials, the machine they are going to purchase can perform 800 tests in a 16-hour period.

“The machine we’re going to utilize is called the Halogic Panther and it’s a nucleic acid amplification test which will report out the results within three hours,” said Mark Joncas, lab manager at Medical Labs of Windsor.

The quick turnaround allows Med Labs to report results to patients the same day.

“First thing it’s going to do is reduce to anxiety in our community for those patients that are waiting for a result,” said Jennifer Yee, Medical Labs of Windsor vice president. “Second thing it’s going to do is help contact tracing so we can get on that quicker and we’re going to hopefully unload some of the burden on the rest of the province being able to do it locally.”

Windsor Regional Hospital is buying an even more sophisticated machine that can turn tests over in an hour.

“It allows us to focus on hospital patients while Med Labs of Windsor can focus on community patients,” said Jeff Booth Windsor Regional Hospital lab director.

Having the testing platforms helps fill the void of the public lab that was pulled from the region a decade ago.

“This is a really good news piece for our community, not only during a pandemic but on a go-forward basis,” Gretzky said.

Med Labs is hoping to have the machine up and running by mid-December.

“Now we’re on a level playing field with all the other community labs in the province, which before this we weren’t,” Yee said.