Case Study

New Horizons at Marlborough makes targeted public health decisions using building-level wastewater data

Program snapshot

  • Building-level wastewater monitoring for a senior living community
  • 235 residents and staff included in wastewater monitoring data (on average)
  • Delivered real-time sampling data as well as weekly summary reports

Notable outcomes

  • Equipped community with multi-layered biosecurity
  • Enabled data-driven decisions for when
    to use PCR testing
  • Achieved early warning around a potential
    COVID-19 outbreak

Wastewater monitoring was an opportunity to get ahead of the curve. So much of what we do with testing is often reactionary, and [wastewater monitoring] allowed us to be proactive. PCR testing takes a lot of time, so it’s really helpful to have access to information that helps us decide when to test.

Mark Veits, Associate Director

Challenge

Biosecurity shouldn’t stop at one line of defense

The COVID-19 pandemic is a constantly shifting landscape. Risk levels rise and fall. Mitigation resources come and go. Keeping up with constant change requires a flexible set of tools. For New Horizons at Marlborough, PCR pooled testing was working well. But when management heard about building-level wastewater monitoring, they were eager to explore how it could provide insights about risks with less hands-on effort.

Solution

Wastewater data signals when and where to test

Our team designed a wastewater monitoring program that would supply a steady flow of data. We implemented an end-to-end service for collecting, analyzing, and sharing the results from wastewater samples. At each phase, project partners reconvened to ensure the program delivered timely insights around potential COVID-19 risks.

Flexibility made a major difference. A few weeks into testing, the team moved an autosampler that wasn’t providing consistent results. It did not take long for the repositioned device to flag what could become a potential outbreak. New Horizons acted quickly, performing PCR tests on everyone in the building and confirming higher-than-expected cases. The early insight enabled proactive measures to manage potential spread.

Wastewater monitoring can indicate when to take mitigation measures, providing peace of mind without excessive restrictions or testing.

Impact

Early warning for informed decisions

With multi-layered protection in place, management feels like it can get ahead of the curve. Wastewater monitoring can indicate when to take mitigation measures, providing peace of mind without excessive restrictions or testing. Residents can live life to the fullest—even in the face of unexpected surges or variants.