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.
Renown Health nurses are being celebrated for going above and beyond for their patients and care team colleagues. Every year, the Northern Nevada Nurses of Achievement Committee recognizes registered nurses (RNs) from across the community to celebrate their accomplishments and further the nursing profession. The committee just announced the 2020 award winners, including seven high-performing nurses from Renown Health. Nurses are at the forefront of the care teams working through the COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 has been fittingly declared the “International Year of the Nurse and Midwife” by the World Health Organization. Celebrating our nurses is more important this year than ever, and Renown is proud to be home to seven of the 2020 Northern Nevada Nurses of Achievement winners in the following categories: Clinical Leadership: Jenny Garcia, RN, BSN, supervisor of nursing in the orthopedics unit at Renown Regional Medical Center; Critical Care: Olivia Cartwright, RN, BSN, bedside nurse in the intensive care unit at Renown Regional Medical Center; Lifetime Achievement: Cheryl Jameson, RN, bedside nurse in the general surgical unit at Renown South Meadows Medical Center; Office & Outpatient: Kathleen Neilan, RN, BCN, OCN, cancer nurse navigator at Renown Institute for Cancer; Oncology and Infusion Services: Paola Espinoza, RN, BSN, supervisor of nursing in the cancer nursing unit at Renown Regional Medical Center; Rookie of the Year: Tamara Slater, RN, BSN, bedside nurse in the general surgical unit at Renown Regional Medical Center;Renown Facility Winner: Chelsea Zielinski, RN, MSN, clinical nurse educator in the neonatal intensive care unit at Renown Regional Medical Center. From a pool of over 400 publicly-nominated nurses who provide care across northern Nevada’s care facilities and hospitals, the Committee announced a total of 14 award winners during a virtual awards celebration on Friday, Aug. 28. Anthony D. Slonim, RN, MD, DrPH, FACHE; President and CEO of Renown, who worked as a registered nurse in an Emergency Department earlier in his career says, “We appreciate the work that every nurse does every day, not only for the patient in the hospital, but in all of the other settings where people come to learn how to live healthier lives. Nurses have direct influence on the outcomes of every patient, and I congratulate all 14 nurses for their exceptional achievements.” He adds, “The real winners are those patients, families, colleagues and community members who are cared for by these exceptional nursing professionals.” “We’re proud to celebrate our community’s nurses and all they do to care for patients and their loved ones,” said Jana Elliott, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Acute Care Services. “Nursing is a true calling to serve others and there are so many incredible ways nurses go beyond their duty to provide the best care despite the intense nature of the pandemic.” “Nurses are at the core of our care teams; they provide compassionate care and advocate for patients and their loved ones in a time of need,” said Melodie Osborn, Chief Nursing Officer, Health Services. “The Northern Nevada Nurses of Achievement awards are a longstanding way of honoring our community’s most compassionate nurses.” Interview Opportunities A 2020 Nurses of Achievement winner and a representative from Renown’s nursing leadership are happy to speak on this prestigious honor, as well as what it means to be a nurse during these unprecedented times. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 775-691-7308 to schedule an interview. 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. About Northern Nevada Nurses of Achievement Shining a spotlight on the nursing profession since 1999, the Northern Nevada Nurses of Achievement Committee works to honor their colleagues and to increase awareness of nursing as a profession. The committee also supports the growth of the profession in awarding scholarships for nursing students.
Renown’s general surgical unit debuts a set of angel wings crafted by staff and their families in Renown’s general surgical unit debuts a set of angel wings crafted by staff and their families in commemoration of Nurses & Hospital Week, May 4–10. A special piece of artwork in Renown Health’s general surgical unit is bringing color and joy to everyone who walks by. The unit’s new angel wings backdrop is made up of individually-decorated feathers – created by Renown nurses, certified nursing assistants, unit clerks, supervisors, staff’s family members and anyone else who wanted to contribute their creativity. Assembled in celebration of Renown’s Nurses & Hospital Week, observed May 4–10, this angelic backdrop sheds light on some of the things our nurses are most grateful for. “This art project was a month in the making,” said nurse manager of Renown’s general surgical unit, Deanna Olson. “A true collaborative effort, our staff, and even some of their children, would use their breaks and downtime to cut out and decorate feathers. Some focused on using bright, vibrant colors, while others wrote about what they are grateful for and the things that make them happy.” Doodles of pets, names of family members and inspirational quotes are just a few of the things featured on the feathers. The names of the 110 employees working in the unit can also be found throughout the angel wings. The idea behind the backdrop theme was inspired by nurse Melissa Vierra, who spent her last night as part of the general surgical unit working with a few team members to build the angel wings. Vierra now serves as a nursing administrative manager for Renown. “It takes an angel to be selfless enough to devote oneself to the care of others,” said Vierra. All our angels are as unique as the feathers in the wings, but together, we are united as a team to provide the best care possible for our patients. I am extremely grateful for my nursing family and all the lives they touch, including mine, every day.” A few Renown nurses joined Vierra in expressing their gratitude: “I am grateful that I have a job and for everything I have in my life.” – Elizabeth Rios, CNA “I am grateful for my family.” – Jena Smith, RN “I am grateful for my health.” – Mary Gutierrez, UC “I am grateful that I am not sick.” – Barby Workman, CNA “I am grateful for my life.” – Sierra Genz, RN “I am grateful for my health.” – Alyssa Daly, RN “I am grateful to be working.” – Skye Sauls, RN “I am grateful for my pets and my family.” – Colette Chapman, RN “I am grateful for the Bob Ross-esque landscapes.” – Tahni Murphy, RN “I am grateful for my family, my health and having a job that I love.” – Deanna Olson, RN During times of uncertainty, it’s these things, coupled with our amazing patients and teammates that keep us going,” added Olson. “I’m lucky to have the angel wings right outside my office. Seeing our angels from all departments take photos in front of the wings and hearing the love and happiness in their voices gives me hope to look towards the future – our community is in amazing hands.” ### 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 there 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. Media Contact: Public Relations M: 775-691-7308 E: email@example.com