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.
Despite numerous medical challenges, Emmalee Sutton is a determined, bright and outgoing 14-year-old with a joy for life and passion for helping others. Renown Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) are excited to announce Emmalee Sutton as the 2021 Champion Child Ambassador. A fighter from a very young age, 14-year-old Emmalee has been a source of hope and inspiration to everyone she meets, never letting her medical challenges slow her down. A video introducing Emmalee and her journey can be found here. Emmalee was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis at age 2, and she has endured a long road of illnesses and hospitalizations since. She also has Addison’s disease, which means her body under-produces critical hormones. She had her gallbladder removed at age 8, port surgery at 13, and has received several liver biopsies over the years. Over time, heavy steroid use has stunted her growth — at 14 years old, she is 49 inches tall. It has also caused extreme weight gains and losses. She also faces daily issues with her calcium, potassium and sodium levels. Due to her lack of immunities, she is unable to attend school in-person but is on the home/hospital program through the Washoe County School District. Despite Emmalee’s medical challenges, her sheer joy and spark for life remains untouched. “I am so honored to be chosen as the 2021 Champion Child Ambassador and represent all the kids at Renown Children’s Hospital. I hope my story can inspire other young patients to believe in themselves,” said Emmalee. “It can be hard dealing with health challenges, but I always think about those who have it worse than me. Instead of complaining about the things I can’t do, I celebrate all the things I can do.” “We can all learn from Emmalee’s enthusiasm, determination and positive outlook,” said Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, President & CEO of Renown. “She has never met an obstacle too great or faced a challenge too difficult, and she effortlessly inspires others to view life through that same lens. Emmalee has already touched so many hearts here at Renown, and as our 2021 Champion Child Ambassador, her impact is sure to be incredible.” Emmalee loves to talk to and help other children, especially when she visits Renown Children’s Hospital for treatments. One of her favorite things to do in the hospital is visit with other patients and try to make them feel better. “Emmalee is very patient with all the doctors she sees, the medications she takes and the frequent lab testing and blood draws she receives,” said her mom, Ann Sutton. “She always remains positive and comforts those who think they are hurting her. This makes her quite the beloved patient at Renown Children’s Hospital!” Emmalee enjoys spending time with her four dogs and rabbit, and she also has an affinity for frogs, lizards and fish. She loves to sew and crochet, and for the past six years, she has held the title of top cookie-seller in her Girl Scout troop. When Emmalee grows up, she wants to be a pediatric nurse so she can help other kids who are going through what she has experienced. Her ultimate goal in life is to make the world a better place in many ways. “From the moment I met Emmalee, I knew she was a champion,” said Kiemmy Thai, MBA, Foundation Manager of Children's Hospital at Renown. “Her courage and perseverance inspire so many pediatric patients with hope when they need it most. Her smile is contagious, and her words of wisdom at such a young age will have a great impact on our community. We are excited to work with Emmalee and help bring out the champion in others.” Emmalee will serve as Renown Children’s Hospital’s CMNH Champion Child for the next two years, acting as the face of the hospital in the community and sharing her heartwarming and inspiring story. Supporting Champions Like Emmalee Funds from the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals’ have helped purchase equipment for several of the subspecialists Emmalee needs to see. Additionally, Emmalee has benefited from equipment that CMNH has funded during her in-patient stays, such as distraction machines, iPads and CinemaVision goggles. You can support local champion children like Emmalee by visiting renown.childrensmiraclenetworkhospitals.org. About Renown Children’s Hospital Renown Children’s Hospital is the only dedicated children’s hospital in northern Nevada, and offers a variety of programs and services designed specifically to care for the community's families. It has the region’s only Children’s ER and Pediatric ICU. Renown Children’s Hospital is the only hospital affiliated with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) in the region and local CMN Hospitals' programs and events directly benefit children in the Truckee Meadows. It is also the only hospital in the region affiliated with CHA (Children’s Hospital Association). For more information, visit here. About Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada. Donations stay local to fund critical treatments and healthcare services, pediatric medical equipment and charitable care. Since 1983, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has raised more than $7 billion, most of it $1 at a time through the charity's Miracle Balloon icon. Its various fundraising partners and programs support the nonprofit's mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Find out why children's hospitals need community support, and learn about your member hospital, at CMNHospitals.org and facebook.com/CMNHospital.