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.
Renown's Neuro-Diagnostic Laboratory Nationally Recognized For Providing Quality Diagnostic Services
Earning its third five-year accreditation, Renown's neuro-diagnostic lab remains Nevada's only accredited ABRET facility. The Renown Institute for Neurosciences is pleased to announce that the neuro-diagnostic lab at Renown Regional Medical Center has been re-accredited by the American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists (ABRET). ABRET’s lab accreditation process evaluates technical standards, the quality of a laboratory’s output, and lab management. “Renown Health is a leader and a destination for health in treating neurological disorders and advancing innovations in neurology. The specialists at the Renown Institute for Neurosciences provide comprehensive brain, nerve and surgical support along with a full range of diagnostic and additional procedures and a disease-specific, patient-focused approach to care,” says Tony Slonim, MD, DrPH, FACHE, President and CEO, Renown Health. “This prestigious honor from ABRET means Renown’s Electroencephalogram (EEG) Laboratory has met strict standards and is recognized as a place where patients and physicians can confidently receive quality diagnostics.” “In addition to re-accreditation from ABRET, the Institute for Neurosciences has earned a Gold Seal of Approval by the Joint Commission and offers advanced treatment options including t-PA (Tissue Plasminogen Activator) and biplane angiography. The Level III accredited Epilepsy laboratory implements some of the newest treatments available,” said Renown’s Chief Medical Officer, Paul Sierzenski, MD, MSHQS, CPE, FACEP. “Renown patients also have access to the most promising new therapies through national clinical trials, which have been shown to significantly improve patients’ health and well-being.” “I am proud to recognize our dedicated team of caregivers for their continued passion and excellence in maintaining the highest standards in patient care,” said Renown Institute for Neurosciences’ Division Chief, Dr. Rolando Ania. “It is all thanks to their tremendous efforts that we remain the only ABRET accredited laboratory, as well as the only nationally accredited epilepsy center (NAEC Level III), in the state of Nevada.” Using a collaborative approach, specialists at the Renown Institute for Neurosciences use leading-edge diagnostic tools to identify neurological conditions and treat patients with the most effective techniques available. What is a Neuro-diagnostic Lab? A neuro-diagnostic lab allows care teams the technology to evaluate how a patient’s peripheral, autonomic, and central nervous systems function, and aid in diagnosing and treating conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and other diseases of the nervous system. What is an Electroencephalogram (EEG)? An Electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that measures and records the electrical activity of the brain. During the test, special sensors called electrodes are attached to the patient’s head and hooked by wires to a computer. The computer then records the brain’s electrical activity on the screen. Using a collaborative approach, specialists at the Renown Institute for Neurosciences use leading-edge diagnostic tools to identify neurological conditions and treat patients with the most effective techniques available. Renown Health hospitals are ranked as Nevada’s top hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. 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®. About ABRET The American Board of Registration of Electroencephalographic and Evoked Potential Technologists (ABRET) is the credentialing board for EEG, Evoked Potential, Long Term Monitoring, and Neurophysiologic Intraoperative Monitoring Technologists. ABRET was organized in 1964 through a joint effort by the American Society of Electroencephalographic Technologists (ASET) and the American EEG Society (AEEGS) (now the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society). The Laboratory Accreditation Board was founded in 2004.