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.
Fianna's Legacy Grows On: Healing Garden At Renown Expands Over 14,000 Square Feet, Doubling In Size And Beauty
Expansion project celebrates the 10-year anniversary of Fianna’s Healing Garden; led by daughter Rebecca Dickson and brother Harvey Fennell. Renown Health Foundation announced today the re-opening of the newly renovated Fianna’s Healing Garden at Renown Regional Medical Center. Fianna Dickson Combs, a longtime Reno resident, business leader and master gardener, shared Renown’s belief in the healing power of nature. Fianna lost her battle to ovarian cancer in 2008 and her family and friends carried out her wishes after she passed away, opening the original healing garden in 2009 to benefit patients and caregivers. Today, the garden continues to grow – theexpansion includes connected walking paths, fountain, benches and seating areas, additional sculptures and a grass area with a covered pavilion. Fianna’s Healing Garden is open to patients, their supporters and employees. Members of the media are invited to tour the garden on Monday, June 22 from 10 am – noon. Please bring a face mask and be prepared to receive a health screening upon entering. Donors and individuals from Renown Health Foundation will be available for interviews. Please call 775-691-7308 or email email@example.com to RSVP by June 22 at 9:30 a.m. “For over a decade, our staff, patients and their loved ones have found peace and solace in spending time in Fianna’s Healing Garden,”said Tony Slonim, MD, D.Ph., president and CEO of Renown Health. “I’d like to express my sincere gratitude and thanks to all who played a role in the garden’s renovation, and those who bring such beauty to our campus. I hope everyone gets a chance to experience the garden’s healing effects, and with it, the beautifullegacy Fianna and her incredible family, continues today.” Key Features The expanded healing garden now spans 28,388 square feet and includes the following new features: More than 2,000 plants and trees Covered pavilion on the east side of the garden offers protection from the elements and can seat up to 75 people. Featured on the back wall of the pavilion is a stunning mural of Mt. Rose. Supported by the E. L. Wiegand Foundation 1,257 square feet of natural grass located in front of the pavilion, allowing garden guests a beautiful, relaxing spot to picnic. Supported by the Reno Aces Traditional rose garden featuring a variety of 20 different award-winning David Austin roses. Supported by the Fennell and Dickson families Weeping cherry tree dedicated to our healthcare heroes for their extraordinary efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic and to those in our community who lost their lives. Combs’ legacy is sustained through the work of her family, friends and community members. Fianna’s eldest daughter Rebecca Dickson and her brother, Harvey Fennell, played an important role in the expansion and helped lead the effort to generate over $800,000 in community support. Fianna’s other brother, Thomas M. Fennell, designed the garden’s new pavilion. Greg Walaitis, chief development officer of Renown Health Foundation said, “On behalf of Renown Health Foundation, we would like to thank Becca Dickson, Harvey and Nancy Fennell for all their hard work and leadership on this project. They knew Fianna’s vision and brought together the community support to make it a stunning reality. We thank them for their extraordinary gift of this Garden to help improve the health and wellness of patients, families and caregivers.” “It brings me great joy knowing my mother’s contribution to Renown has already made a difference in the lives of countless individuals in need of comfort and relief,” said Dickson. “The renovated garden has even more places to sit, reflect, walk, picnic, read or talk, all while embracing nature’s beauty.I can think of no better way to honor my mother’s legacy, and I’m incredibly grateful for the support of our friends and family to bring this project to life.” Ways to Support Fianna’s Healing Garden Make a gift at renown.org/give Call Renown Health Foundation at 775-982-5545 Mail a check to Renown Health Foundation, 1155 Mill St., O2, Reno, NV 89502 Venmo: @RenownFoundation Special Thanks Renown Health Foundation would like to thank the following organizations and individuals, for the garden expansion would be impossible without their support: E. L. Wiegand Foundation Reno Aces Harvey and Nancy Fennell Rebecca Dickson Thomas M. Fennell, Fennell-Purifoy Architects Estelle J. Kelsey Foundation Monroe/Schuler Foundation Thelma and Thomas Hart Foundation E.L. Cord Foundation Marie Crowley Foundation Jerry and Roxie Enneking Dr. David and Jennifer Smith David Geddes Victor Bucher Cary Lurie Renown Employees Architect: Dale Cox Architects Landscaping: Reno Green Landscaping Contractor & Builder: Clark/Sullivan Construction Sounds of Garden: Sierra Integrated Systems “My belief is that nature is the most healing element in our environment, it brings us to a more natural and comfortable place within ourselves” - Fianna Dickson Combs 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, Renown Children’s Hospital, Renown 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.