Faster, Better Testing For COVID; Physician Researchers At Renown Health And UNR Med Seek Convalescent Plasma Study Participants
Physician researchers seek to understand how the immune system responds to COVID-19 and create a healthier Nevada. During the early stages of the pandemic, convalescent plasma was considered the only viable treatment option available for patients with COVID-19. Convalescent plasma is the component of the blood from recovered patients that may contain COVID-19 antibodies that help fight the infection. The National Institutes of Health has since developed treatment guidelines for COVID-19 based on clinical trial data and many studies are still underway worldwide assessing various additional treatment options. Convalescent plasma was in high demand but difficult to locate for COVID-19 patients in the northern Nevada area. A 24-year-old nursing assistant, Austin Meegan, was hospitalized and spent weeks staving off kidney and lung failure before learning he was eligible for an experimental blood transfusion that showed promise in treating COVID-19. Doctors estimated Meegan had only about a 3% chance of tracking down a donor to match his rare blood type. A COVID-19 survivor, Thomas Gibson, a Texas resident with the same blood type, traveled to Reno to donate his viral antibodies and a convalescent plasma donation credited with helping to save Meegan’s life. Physician clinical researchers and scientists at Renown and the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) knew they needed to create better options for patients and physicians. Clinical researchers developed a study to help other patients like Austin, and pleaded for donations from recovered COVID-19 patients to donate their convalescent plasma. The researcher teams looked to understand how the body’s immune system responds to the virus over time, to aid them in developing new treatments for COVID-19. “The world’s capacity to get through the COVID crisis will depend on four things — science, technology, innovation and partnerships, says Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, President and CEO of Renown Health. “Taking lab bench discoveries to the bedside of patients in an efficacious and timely manner is not easy, but with UNR Med and our partners, we are making great strides in advancing clinical research which has the power to save lives and to create a healthier Nevada.” “It’s tremendously promising to partner on clinical research that will not only help us better understand the disease, but help inform treatment for those combatting COVID-19 that has had such a devastating impact on Nevadans, our nation and the world,” says UNR Med Dean Thomas L. Schwenk, MD. Renown, UNR Med and other area health care partners collaborated with Vitalant to collect plasma from recovered donors for a study on the treatment's efficacy. Eligible donors are at least 18 years old, weigh more than 110 pounds and are healthy. Donors had fully recovered from a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. Project coordinators at the Renown Research Office were overwhelmed by the community’s support and plasma blood donations. Additional partnerships with the Washoe County Health District, the State of Nevada and the Governor’s office, Saint Mary’s Medical Center, Northern Nevada Medical Center, Carson Tahoe Health and the VA Sierra Nevada Health Care System, along with many area health care providers helped the team meet their goals of enrolling 120 eligible participants in the study. “Our success in this study rests heavily on the support of our great community, as well as the innovation and collaboration demonstrated by Renown and UNR Med,” said Sara Healy, MD, MPH, principal investigator of the study and a pediatric infectious disease physician at Renown Children’s Hospital and UNR Med. “We are proud to be at the forefront of conducting essential research during such a pivotal time in history, and look forward to our continued partnership as we continue this important work.” “The control of COVID-19 in our communities relies on testing. The study that is being launched to develop a sensitive, specific and easier way to collect specimens (blood) is advancing the field and brings promise towards getting to our common goal of having the right diagnostic test for the right clinical situation at the right time,” says Mark Riddle, MD, DrPH, FISTM, associate investigator of the study and associate dean for clinical research and professor at UNR Med's Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Research. The research team is now asking area residents to participate in a study to analyze the efficacy of two COVID-19 tests. Participants will undergo two blood tests: one being a finger stick to provide results for a rapid test, and the other is a traditional venipuncture draw confirming the presence or absence of COVID-19 antibodies. This study is a collaboration with InBios International, Inc., a leading biotechnology company based in Seattle. Researchers are seeking: Individuals who have confirmed positive for COVID-19 and who have recently recovered from the virus. Study participants must be within 7-28 days from the onset of their symptoms. Individuals who have recently tested negative for COVID-19 and have never tested positive. Those who are interested in participating in the study may contact project coordinators at the Renown Research Office at (775) 982-3646, or via e-mail at email@example.com, 7:30 A.M. – 5:00 P.M., Monday through Friday. Individuals aged 18-75 in general good health are encouraged to consider participating in this ongoing study. There is no cost to participate in this study and participation is voluntary. An individual’s decision to participate will not affect their current or future relations with their health care provider(s), health district, or the community. Those who decide to participate are free to withdraw at any time. “Time is of the essence with COVID. If we can get test results to people and their clinicians in a more timely way, we can make a faster diagnosis of a patient's condition, says Christopher M. Kozlowski, MD, MHA, Renown's institutional research officer and Medical Director/VP of Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health. “As we refine the accuracy of our testing; we are applying sensitivity and specificity testing for true negative and true positive results. This provides people with more timely and accurate results and better quality care.” About Renown Health Renown Health is a locally governed, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving northern Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. Renown is one of the region’s largest private employers with a workforce of more than 7,000. It comprises three acute care hospitals, a rehabilitation hospital, the area’s most comprehensive medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest and only locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown has a long tradition and commitment to improve the care and the health of our community. About the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med), Nevada’s first medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion. For more information, visit med.unr.edu.
Surgery Center Of Reno And Renown Partner To Offer Convenient, Affordable Option For Outpatient Surgery
Brings a new level of convenience, access and affordability to surgical care in northern Nevada. In a collaboration designed to offer consumers additional convenient and affordable options for outpatient surgery, Surgery Center of Reno (SCOR) and Renown Health today announced a new partnership. “We are thrilled to bring a new level of convenience in surgical care to patients and providers in the Reno community and outlying areas, to deliver superior clinical quality and service, and make health care more affordable,” said James Lynch, MD, President, and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Surgery Center of Reno. “We trust and value the Surgery Center of Reno and its team of surgeons, clinicians and administrators and the excellent quality of care and compassion they provide to their patients,” said Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, Renown’s President & CEO. “Given our mutual interests in advancing high-quality and high-value care, this partnership expands capabilities, enhances access and affordability for patients and physicians, improves the health of our community and establishes Renown and the Surgery Center of Reno as the premier destination for surgery in northern Nevada.” This joint venture for outpatient surgery care is the result of the unique collaborative relationship between Renown Health, Reno’s only not-for-profit health care system; and the Surgery Center of Reno, an independent physician owned ambulatory surgery center with Regent Surgical Health as the managing partner. The SCOR and Renown partnership brings together three key elements to serve patients and our community with enhanced outpatient surgery care that includes: Out-of-pocket cost savings for patients. Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs) like Surgery Center of Reno, offer a high-quality, low-cost alternative for many surgical procedures. Patient preference and the desire to decrease healthcare costs continue to fuel Renown’s interest in transitioning appropriate surgeries from hospitals to freestanding ambulatory surgery centers. Significant innovations in minimally-invasive surgical procedures along with advances in anesthesia techniques, reduced complications and recovery times for selected procedures, have helped to make ambulatory surgery centers popular. Renown is focused on creating options for high quality, affordable care for patients and insurance providers by having selected surgical procedures occur in the ASC setting. Comfort and convenience for patients. Surgery Center of Reno offers an upscale experience and has some of the most advanced technology for Ambulatory Surgical Centers in the state. Since all surgeries at SCOR are pre-scheduled, a patient’s procedure is never bumped or delayed by an emergency or trauma case. Surgery is scheduled at ideal times for the patient and family. After surgery, the patient has time to wake up in the recovery room, and then recuperate in their own home. The same high-quality physicians who work in the operating rooms at Renown hospitals also work as part of the Surgery Center of Reno, including surgeons specializing in Spine, Orthopedics, General Surgery, Ear, Nose & Throat, Pain management, Urology/Lithotripsy, Gynecology, Ophthalmology; Dental/ Oral Surgery, Podiatry and Weight Loss Surgery. Since their inception more than forty years ago, Ambulatory Surgical Centers have demonstrated an ability to deliver quality and customer service while simultaneously reducing costs. The Surgery Center of Reno and all Ambulatory Surgical Centers are highly regulated, adhere to stringent quality and safety guidelines, are certified by Medicare and the Nevada State Department of Health, accredited with accrediting agencies such as the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care or The Joint Commission, and have adopted extensive patient safety procedures. Of course, if complications or an emergency were to develop, patients have immediate access to Renown’s hospitals. “Renown has used our experience through COVID-19 to emerge better and stronger, and we are realigning to meet new consumer demands for health and healthcare services that are convenient, accessible and affordable,” said Bethany Sexton, Chief Transformation Officer. “We are excited to partner with SCOR to exceed people’s expectations and to delight our community with smart, innovative approaches to care. As our nation struggles with how to improve a troubled health care system, the experience of ASCs is a great example of a successful transformation in health care delivery.” Each year, millions of procedures are performed in outpatient centers. The Surgery Center of Reno has been in operation for 14 years, with an excellent track record and reputation in our community. According to a July 2017 report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), about 70 percent of all surgeries in the U.S. occur in an outpatient or ambulatory setting. Outpatient and ambulatory surgery centers can save money and improve the efficiency and convenience of care for patients and health care providers alike. ASCs are at the center of today’s most pressing healthcare initiatives- value based care and risk-sharing models. Nic Towle, RN, Administrator at SCOR says, “We are dedicated to providing excellent care in a safe environment and want all of our patients and their families to be comfortable and receive the highest quality surgical care. Not all procedures can take place in an outpatient setting and may require a hospital stay regardless of your preference. We suggest you speak with your doctor to ensure you qualify as a candidate, to learn about all the options and what is best for you.” About SCOR SCOR is a well-established, Medicare certified, AAAHC accredited, multidisciplinary ambulatory surgery center in Reno. The ASC is partnered with a leader in development and management of ASCs, Regent Surgical Health based in Westchester, Illinois. SCOR has been an integral provider in the market in offering out-patient services to northern Nevada and northeastern California since 2006. SCOR has proven to be a leader in expanding services that include minimally invasive techniques in spine and general surgery. The surgery center has one of the strongest group of fellowship-trained and board-certified specialists and has won multiple awards for clinical excellence. About Renown Health Renown Health is the region’s largest, locally owned and governed, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. With a diverse workforce of more than 7,000 employees, Renown has fostered a longstanding culture of excellence, determination and innovation. The organization comprises a trauma center, two acute care hospitals, a children’s hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, a medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest, locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown’s institute model addresses social determinants of health and includes: Child Health, Behavioral Health & Addiction, Healthy Aging and Health Innovation. Clinical institutes include: Cancer, Heart and Vascular Heath, Neurosciences and Robotic Surgery. Renown is currently enrolling participants in the world’s largest community-based genetic population health study, the Healthy Nevada Project®. For more information, visit renown.org.
From Distilled Spirits And Juice To Hand Sanitizer Local Businesses Shift Efforts To Help Renown Fight The Good Fight Against Germs Amid Pandemic
Seven Troughs Distilling Co., Damon Industries, The Depot and Forsaken River have worked together to supply Renown Health with 726 gallons of hand sanitizer to date. Thanks to the support of local businesses, Renown Health’s need for hand sanitizer is being met. Seven Troughs Distilling Co., with the help of several area distilleries including The Depot Craft Brewery Distillery and Forsaken River Spirits, is using their distilling equipment to create ethyl alcohol. Damon Industries mixes the ethyl alcohol with other key ingredients in accordance to the hand sanitizer recipe issued by the FDA and World Health Organization, bottles the contents, and distributes the bottles to Renown. This community-wide collaboration has resulted in 726 gallons of hand sanitizer for Renown thus far. Seven Troughs had previously manufactured hand sanitizer and surface sanitizer using their non beverage grade alcohol for years, which employees used internally to sanitize their hands and clean machines. At the start of the pandemic, the distillery continued producing the sanitizer for family and friends. The word spread quickly about Seven Troughs’ capabilities – and that’s when Renown reached out to the distillery to see if they could help. “All of a sudden, instead of making a 50-gallon batch of hand sanitizer, we needed to make a 500- gallon batch,” said Seven Troughs president Tom Adams. “We quickly realized that we were very much out of our depth. We thought it would be a better plan if we could focus on what we do well, which is making ethanol, and if we could get a partner that could focus on the formulation and bottling. That ended up being Damon Industries.” Before the pandemic, Damon Industries primarily manufactured juice products for smoothie shops and healthcare facilities – a market that had basically collapsed. The team at Damon Industries was quick to respond to Adams’ call for assistance, as it was a chance to serve the community and keep staff employed. “It didn’t take any convincing,” said Damon Industries’ vice president of sales Brandon Halvorson when asked about the company’s impetus for moving into the hand sanitizer industry. “We knew the community needed a product and we knew we had the partnerships that could get it done. It’s been our pleasure to work with the outstanding people of Renown and of northern Nevada to keep our community supplied during this difficult situation.” Before boxing up and distributing the hand sanitizer to Renown facilities, employees at Damon Industries stick a Renown-branded Fight the Good Fight label to every bottle, a reminder that the fight against COVID-19 extends far beyond the walls of Renown’s care sites. “I am amazed by how quickly Seven Troughs and Damon Industries sprang into action to meet our need for hand sanitizer,” said Renown’s director of operations Ian Wayman. “In addition to their swift manufacturing efforts, they’re selling us the hand sanitizer at an extremely reasonable rate, charging just enough to pay for supplies and keep their staff employed. This type of genuine and sincere support from our community partners serves as a reminder that we truly are all in this together.” About Renown Health Renown Health is a locally governed and locally owned, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving northern Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. Renown is one of the region’s largest private employers with a workforce of more than 7,000. It comprises three acute care hospitals, a rehabilitation hospital, the area’s most comprehensive medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest and only locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown has a long tradition and commitment to continually improve the care and the health of our community. For more information, visit renown.org. About Seven Troughs Distilling Co. Seven Troughs Distilling Co., LLC was established in 2012 as the Great Basin’s first licensed distillery since 1877. Focusing on historically styled spirits, Seven Troughs’ offering includes award-winning whiskies, gin, and rum. When not manufacturing hand-sanitizer, Seven Troughs offers tours and tastings at our Sparks, Nevada distillery and a full restaurant and craft cocktail menu at our Downtown Reno location, the Seven Troughs Speakeasy. www.7troughsdistilling.com. About Damon Industries Damon Industries is passionate about creating products that help and inspire. We move millions of gallons per year, but always start with our core values. Family, Fun, Integrity, and Gratitude guide us from procurement to production. Our partnerships are as important to us as the wide range of products we produce. Beverages and cleaners to sauces and whiskey, we make sure to treat our customers, employees, and suppliers like family. Damonpacking.com
Renown Health Update On Non-Urgent Elective Surgical Procedures And Medical Services At Renown Hospitals
Today, in accordance with recommendations from the U.S. Surgeon General and the American College of Surgeons, the Renown Health Joint Medical Executive Committee decided that effective Tuesday, March 17, surgical cases scheduled at both Renown Regional Medical Center and Renown South Meadows Medical Center, considered to be ELECTIVE-OPTIONAL will be postponed to a later date. Patients with scheduled ELECTIVE-OPTIONAL surgeries will be called by Renown Health representatives over the next week. Surgeon’s offices will also be reaching out to assist patients with rescheduling their surgeries for a future date. Elective surgeries that are REQUIRED and not optional will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis daily with the surgeon, patient and a medical leadership review committee at Renown. Your surgeon’s office will be in contact with you with more information about these REQUIRED surgeries This temporary measure will allow Renown’s physicians and staff to enact the emergency preparedness plans they have been developing for weeks to create additional capacity for inpatients and to continue to deliver high quality care during the anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases in northern Nevada. The new guidelines do NOT apply to EMERGENCY surgeries performed in Renown hospitals. There are different types of surgery, this decision impacts Elective-Optional surgeries only. Elective – Optional surgery – Elective surgeries are not usually necessary for the individual to stay in good health. They are non-emergency and planned in advance. A wide range of surgeries can be elective. Most cosmetic surgeries are elective. Other surgeries such as organ donation, scoliosis surgery, tonsillectomies and other minor surgeries can also be considered elective. Required surgery – Surgery which needs to be done in order to retain quality of life. As opposed to urgent or emergency surgery, required surgeries do not need to be performed immediately. Examples of required surgery are kidney stone or tumor removal. Urgent or emergency surgery – When a patient’s condition is life threatening, surgery is considered emergent. Emergency surgeries must be performed immediately, even when the patient is unconscious and cannot give consent. Examples include trauma and appendicitis. Life-threatening conditions can occur during labor and delivery which may require emergency surgery. Other services making changes include: Pulmonary Services and Procedures Renown Health today will begin rescheduling patients scheduled for Pulmonary Function Testing, Outpatient bronchoscopy and patients at Thomas S. Dolan Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Patients who are affected by this change are being called by Renown to reschedule their appointments for Monday, April20, 2020 or later. Starbucks at Renown and Renown Dining Options As with many of the Starbucks around the U.S., the Starbucks at Renown Regional Medical Center will shift to a “to-go” model, with no seating available. The cafeterias at Renown Regional Medical Center and South Meadows Medical Center remain open, will temporarily eliminate self-service options and will add more ‘grab and go’ options. Other Renown Services Remain Open Renown Medical Group offices remain open. Planned imaging procedures such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), mammograms and non-invasive cardiology testing will continue at Renown hospitals and office locations and will NOT be postponed at this time. Patients confirmed for imaging appointments will be contacted prior to their scheduled visits to identify those who may be at higher risk of COVID-19 infection. Renown has expanded access to Teladoc virtual visits, available to all Hometown Health and Senior Care Plus subscribers. For up-to-date information on Renown’s approach to keeping our community safe, visit our website at https://www.renown.org/covid-19/. About Renown Health Renown Health is a locally governed and locally owned, not-for-profit integrated healthcare network serving northern Nevada, Lake Tahoe and northeast California. Renown is one of the region’s largest private employers with a workforce of more than 7,000. It comprises three acute care hospitals, a rehabilitation hospital, the area’s most comprehensive medical group and urgent care network, and the region’s largest and only locally owned not-for-profit insurance company, Hometown Health. Renown has a long tradition and commitment to continually improve the care and the health of our community. For more information, visit renown.org.
Two Open-Heart Surgeons and Two Advanced Practitioners Bring Nearly 70 Years of Local Experience As part of a continuing focus on offering comprehensive care for patients experiencing cardiac and vascular disease across northern Nevada, Renown Health Department of Surgery and Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health have developed Renown’s first division of cardiothoracic surgery dedicated to heart surgery patients. “Today, I am proud to announce cardiothoracic surgeons, Athan Roumanas, M.D., FACS, and Joseph Brandl, M.D., FACS, who have more than 45 years of combined experience caring for northern Nevadans in need of open-heart surgery, will lead this new practice at Renown,” said Anthony Slonim, M.D., Dr.PH., FACHE, President and CEO of Renown Health. “Advanced practitioners Cindy Powers and Ashley White bring another 23 years of expert care to our community and the new division of cardiothoracic surgery.” Dr. Roumanas has 18 years of experience in northern Nevada. He is a clinical associate professor of surgery at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) and currently serves as medical director of cardiothoracic surgery for Renown Regional Medical Center. Since 1991, Dr. Brandl has cared for our region and held numerous positions throughout the community including Renown’s director of cardiac surgery and community adjunct faculty for UNR Med. Renown Institute for Heart & Vascular Health offers the most highly-skilled and experienced heart and vascular team and the most advanced heart center in the region. Renown has long been the region’s heart care leader – performing the area’s first open-heart surgery, angioplasty, stent and valve replacements decades ago. In 2015, Renown Regional became the first hospital in the region to offer transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a lifesaving alternative to open-heart surgery for patients considered high-risk or inoperable. Renown is among the nation’s top-performing hospitals for heart attack treatment and one of only 105 hospitals nationwide to receive the American College of Cardiology ACTION Registry Silver Performance Achievement Award recognizing success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients. Additionally, Renown’s Roseview, Sierra and Cardiac Intensive Care Units (ICUs) were the only ICUs in Nevada to receive the Beacon Award of Excellence from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. This distinction is based on sustained unit performance and patient outcomes that exceed national benchmarks. As Reno’s only locally-owned, charitable, not-for-profit integrated health network, Renown continues to meet customer demand for affordable healthcare and enhanced service and access by keeping the highest levels of clinical quality care right here in our community. Patients in need of advanced heart care can speak with their care provider about Renown Medical Group – Specialty Care, which can be reached at 775-982-6270 or visit renown.org/HeartCare.