Convalescent plasma has been used in the past to help treat certain infectious diseases, including some respiratory illnesses. To help high-risk patients with COVID-19, Mayo Clinic recently launched a study to evaluate the impact of convalescent plasma when used to treat this virus. Preliminary evidence suggests that it can lead to improvement in patients.
Barbie Warner, RN, BSN, OCN, is proud to be the coordinator of clinical research at Mercy Health – Paducah Medical Oncology and Hematology. Typically, Barbie coordinates clinical trials for cancer patients. However, when Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital was selected to participate in the Mayo Clinic study, she jumped right in to lead these important research efforts.
“We are a small oncology clinical trials department, but Barbie stepped up to the plate to assist with this, without question, given her commitment to keeping our community healthy and coming from her long commitment in oncology,” says John Montville, executive director, oncology service line at Lourdes Hospital.
In this study, hospital patients who have life-threatening COVID-19 or who are at high risk for progressing to this level are given the opportunity to participate. If the patient consents, their treatment follows the designated protocol, which includes convalescent plasma transfusions. The goal of this study is to determine if the plasma helps the patient fight the virus and recover sooner.
Barbie coordinates this trial, inputs data, registers patients and gets approval codes for the plasma. However, she shares that this study could not be successful without the collaboration of the entire team.
“I’m working with infectious disease doctors, the blood bank team and the CCU nurses. I work in a doctor’s office and am not in the hospital, so I have to call the nurses and see how the patients are doing. Therefore, it’s really a team effort,” Barbie says. “As a patient comes into the hospital, the doctors and nurses handle consent, I work with the blood bank to coordinate the plasma and the doctors and nurses then administer the treatment. From there, they provide data on the patient’s condition, reactions and progress for me to input into Mayo Clinic’s electronic system.”
For Barbie, the most rewarding part about working on this study and other trials is watching patients improve.
“There’s no cure for COVID-19. With this convalescent plasma study, hopefully it is saving lives and giving patients options. Without it, the outcome could be different for patients. I want to see the best for my patients and seeing our patients fight and improve means so much. To know I have a very small part in that is rewarding.”
“Barbie is an amazing clinical trials coordinator,” John adds. “She has helped us quickly move into strong oncology clinical trials immediately with our new program. In this case, the study has a potential lifesaving benefit for the highest-risk people that contract this virus – showing both our cutting-edge research in all areas, and our quick ability to adapt to the needs of our communities.”
Thank you, Barbie, for your dedication to this study!
Have you recently recovered from COVID-19? If so, learn how you can help save lives by donating your plasma.