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.
The community is invited to virtual community gathering from 'The Hello Project' to stay connected and engaged through the holidays. The holidays are sure to look and feel a little different this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic as health officials continue urging community members to stay home as much as possible. While the stay at home guidelines undoubtedly impact people of all ages, they can be particularly difficult for aging adults who may live alone. To help address loneliness and isolation this holiday season, The HELLO Project is making spirits brighter for older adults through a series of festive, virtual gatherings called It Starts with Hello, hosted every Tuesday and Thursday at noon. “The holidays are a special time to gather and experience the many joys of the season with those we love,” said Kindle Craig, Director of Renown Health’s Healthy Aging Institute. “Leading up to this time of year, our HELLO community members shared their concerns in not being able to physically be with their children, grandchildren, siblings, friends and other loved ones this holiday season. Hearing this, a series of virtual events have been created to give all community members festive and fun learning opportunities to participate in, all season long. We invite others to join us.” Events include a holiday cooking demonstration, holiday wreath and bow making; festive dessert preparation; composing and hearing seasonal poetry; competing in an ugly sweater contest; virtual home tours and more. It Starts with Hello is open to all adults and is free of charge. Access the complete event schedule here (Note that event dates are subject to change). “This is an innovative approach to reach our local seniors, and to help combat loneliness and isolation,” said Sharon Zadra, executive director of Truckee Meadows Healthy Communities. “Since launching the first programs of It Starts with Hello back in May, we were overwhelmed by the positive response we’ve received from participants. Now, we’re thrilled to connect with all those in our community looking for some extra holiday cheer.” “Participating in The HELLO Project is a chance to be part of an amazing community of people who enjoy learning, laughing, and celebrating life,” said member Ann Kent. “I look forward to creating special memories with the group as we make new holiday traditions, make new friends and support each other during these times.” It Starts with Hello takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon, and people can attend by calling in or joining on their computers via Zoom. Each show features a timely topic, factual information, a chance to chat with others in the community, and ends with some good news – The Daily Dandelion. Participation is free. For more information, visit HelloStartsNow.org. Click on Blogs & Updates to learn on how to access the Zoom virtual gatherings. Individuals can also participate by calling 1-669-900-6833 (toll charges may apply). 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 Truckee Meadows Healthy Communities Truckee Meadows Healthy Communities is a collaborative of thought leaders and influencers who seek to make an impact on the health of their community. The collaborative seeks to build a model where all community members strive toward a culture of health in the Truckee Meadows. This model will include the intersection of the health, education and community development sectors in our region. Truckee Meadows Healthy Communities seeks to create a healthier community through a collective impact project. More info can be found here. About the Washoe County Health District The Washoe County Health District has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County through the policy-making Washoe County District Board of Health. The District consists of five divisions: Administrative Health Services, Air Quality Management, Community and Clinical Health Services, Environmental Health Services and Epidemiology & Public Health Preparedness. More info can be found here.
Growing numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths are troubling; facemasks can slow the trend. 100 of the nation’s top health care systems, representing thousands of hospitals in communities across the U.S., have come together with an urgent plea for all Americans – mask up, because wearing a facemask is our best chance at slowing the surging COVID-19 pandemic now. More than 11.5 million Americans have tested positive for the virus – including an additional one million in just the past week – leading to nearly 250,000 deaths. The current trends are daunting and frightening. If the nation stays on its current course, hospital leaders are increasingly concerned that more healthcare facilities will be overwhelmed as shortages of healthy caregivers make it difficult to handle a rapidly increasing number of patients. Unfortunately, this is already happening in parts of our country. The next several months will be critical. Though there has been positive news about vaccine development, no one knows when those vaccines will be ready for widespread use. In the meantime, everyone must remain vigilant, take precautions and follow public health orders. The country has reached a tipping point. The power to do what is right is now in the hands of everyone everywhere. Beginning today, a public service message will run in The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. Additionally, leading hospitals and health systems across the country will continue to unite to share these messages regionally. The message reads: “As the top nationally-ranked hospitals, we know it’s tough that we all need to do our part and keep wearing masks. But, here’s what we also know: The science has not changed. Masks slow the spread of COVID-19. So, please join us as we all embrace this simple ask: Wear. Care. Share with #MaskUp. Together, wearing is caring. And together, we are saving lives.” In an effort to reach a broader audience, the public service effort will also include messages on digital platforms, social media, online information, links to vital health resources and more. Combining resources demonstrates that these health organizations are working together, will accomplish this today and will get through this together. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to recent studies that have shown facemasks successfully limit spread of the COVID-19 virus. Wearing facemasks protect in key ways: by protecting the wearer against inhalation of harmful pathogens and particulates and by preventing exposure of those around the wearer. In addition to masking, the CDC suggests that everyone minimize the number of non-household contacts, maintain a physical distance of at least six feet, and limit the amount of time around others, especially while indoors and in poorly ventilated areas. For further information about masking guidelines – how to choose a mask, how to properly wear a mask – visit the CDC website. About us: www.everymaskup.com is a collaboration of 100 leading health systems representing thousands of hospitals across the U.S. joining together to create messages for the betterment of communities they serve. The impetus for this, and other public service campaigns to follow, came from a group of health care marketing and communications executives meeting for a decade and reengaged weekly since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The goal is to share knowledge and experience, best practices, strategies and resources - knowing they can accomplish more together. Founded and led by Rhoda Weiss, Ph.D., Los Angeles-based national health care leader and consultant, the expanded coalition is partnering with Cleveland Clinic Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Paul Matsen and his team for this effort. Additionally, hospitals and health systems on a regional basis continue to come together to send messages like these of prevention and safety, hope and healing, life and death, care and caring.Media Contacts:Rhoda WeissM: 310-945-6730E: email@example.comAngie KiskaM: 216-312-9170E: firstname.lastname@example.org The following hospitals and health systems to spread this message across the country. AdventHealth Nemours Children's Health System Adventist Health NewYork-Presbyterian Allegheny Health Network Northwell Health Atrium Health Northwestern Medicine Avera Health Norton Healthcare Banner Health Ochsner Health Baptist Health Northeast Florida OhioHealth Baylor Scott & White Health Oregon Health & Science University BJC HealthCare OSF HealthCare Bon Secours Mercy Health OU Health Boston Children's Hospital PeaceHealth Cedars-Sinai Penn Medicine Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Penn State Health Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Providence Children's Hospital of Orange County Renown Health Children's National Hospital Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center ChristianaCare Rush University System for Health Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center RWJ Barnabas Health City of Hope Saint Luke's Health System (Kansas City, MO) Cleveland Clinic SCL Health CommonSpirit Health Scripps Health Community Health Systems Sharp HealthCare Cooper University Health Care Southwestern Health Resources Dana-Farber Cancer Institute SSM Health Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health St. Elizabeth Healthcare Duke Health St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Emory Healthcare St. Luke's Hospital (St. Louis) Geisinger Stanford Health Care Hackensack Meridian Health Sutter Health HCA Healthcare Temple Health Inspira Health Texas Health Resources Intermountain Healthcare The Christ Hospital Health Network Jefferson Health The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Johns Hopkins Medicine The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Kaiser Permanente ThedaCare Keck Medicine of USC TriHealth (Cincinnati) LifePoint Health Trinity Health Mass General Brigham UC Davis Health Mayo Clinic UCHealth MedStar Health UC Health CINCINNATI Memorial Hermann UC San Diego Health Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center UChicago Medicine MemorialCare (Southern California) UCI Health Mercy UCLA Health Michigan Medicine UCSF Health Mount Sinai Health System UNC Health National Jewish Health University of California Health Nationwide Children's Hospital University Hospitals (Cleveland) Nebraska Medicine University of Iowa Health Care Virtua Health