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Clinical and Translational Science Institute responds to COVID-19

Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute is providing support during the COVID-19 pandemic. To request institute services, complete a service request form.

Resources Available

The institute can assist with:

COVID-19 clinical trials: The institute can help connect researchers interested in conducting COVID-19 clinical trials with appropriate resources and offices. It can provide letters of support. Clinical Research Center is a valuable resource available for COVID-19 trials, especially for follow-up research-related appointments.

Collaborations: The institute can help connect researchers with potential collaborators and offer guidance on the translational science process and how a potential idea can best be explored.

Informatics needs: The institute’s data collection and storage tool, REDCap, is currently in use for several COVID-19 projects (see below). The institute can also help with data extraction from the electronic medical record for research purposes.

Scaling back research: The institute can provide guidance to projects needing to scale back work through the pandemic. In addition, it can provide guidance when projects need to resume work at normal levels in the future.

Support Provided

The institute helped with several initiatives, to date. These initiatives include:

REDCap use: The institute’s data collection and storage tool, REDCap, has been used for several COVID-19-related projects. These include an initiative of Chris Sciamanna, MD, for patient contact tracking. Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Employee Health is using REDCap to track clinical employee symptoms of those employees caring for COVID patients. Project ECHO is also using REDCap for COVID-19-related work and several researchers are integrating the tool into their related projects.

Letters of support: The institute has provided letters of support for applications related to COVID-19 clinical trials.

Support of medically necessary studies at clinical research centers: The clinical research centers continue to provide support for studies that are medically necessary (for example, a study participant must have a drug infusion). The centers’ nursing staff members continue to provide care related to research.

Redeployment of Clinical Research Center at Hershey staff, as applicable: With fewer study visits to the Clinical Research Center at Hershey, nursing staff are helping with clinical activities at the Medical Center. Specifically, staff have been assigned to help with drive-up testing on the medical center campus, as needed.

Use of Clinical Research Center at Hershey space: With fewer study visits and to help ease the clinical needs of the medical center, unused Clinical Research Center at Hershey rooms are available to the medical center’s vascular unit. This effort has allowed the vascular unit’s space to be used for pediatric emergency cases. The dedicated pediatric emergency rooms have negative pressure capabilities and have been reassigned for COVID-19 patients.

Project ECHO: The institute supports Penn State Project ECHO with infrastructure. ECHO, which stands for Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes, gives primary care physicians the tools they need and a professional network to treat patients in regions with little or no access to specialists. Several Project ECHOs for both physicians and the community were held recently about COVID-19, and more are scheduled.

Communication: The institute is helping inform the Penn State community through its communication methods, including its newsletter and social media accounts. Several special newsletters were distributed at the start of the pandemic to help amplify the University message to staff and faculty and help inform of policy changes. In addition, the institute is summarizing the latest COVID-19-related information in its weekly Engage newsletter.

Translational Science Seminar Series – Bench to Bedside and Beyond: The institute quickly scheduled a webinar about collaborating virtually featuring its team science expert, Susan Mohammed, PhD. Mohammed provides team science consultations.

Support of CHOT project: Penn State Center for Healthcare Organizational Transformation (CHOT) is receiving funding through NSF to study simulation modeling and analytics for COVID-19 decision support. The institute has offered its resources to help with this project.

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