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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
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