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Mary Anne Fifield: COVID-19 research update - 30 April 2020

Mary Anne Fifield: COVID-19 research update - 30 April 2020
Heart of Bath comprises three sites. We continue to run our clinical trials unit from Junction Road Surgery, where we set up once the COVID-19 Hot Hub was installed at Oldfield. Fortunately, our current workplace is very much a ‘cold site’, closed to patients and a safe environment for the research coordinator, Becky, and I. We are enjoying our new space and we’re visited regularly by our research PIs of course, yesterday for our first ever remote site initiation visit. So, remarkably even to us, with everything seemingly turned upside-down, we’re opening another research study!
To date, there are 337 sites running The PRINCIPLE Study. We received the green light to start and then, along with everyone else who signed up in parallel, faced the inevitable delay to receiving swabs and study medication – Public Health England had a massive backlog due to huge demand all at once. So, we used the time to expand our research team, with two pharmacists and one member of staff working remotely now GCP certificated, trained on the study and available to help us.

We’re all focused on recruiting and feeling positive about offering this opportunity to eligible patients, people with COVID-19 symptoms who are sounding terribly anxious over the phone. In primary care research we tend to approach patients with stable conditions and clear treatment pathways, but in this situation, outcomes are unpredictable and this impacts patients’ mind-set. How we communicate with patients and their families is so important at this time.

Tomorrow I’m seeing a parent and child for the paediatric vaccine trial we’re running. This will happen at St James’ Surgery, another ‘cold site’ on the other side of the river – it feels like I’m becoming a peripatetic research nurse throughout this period. My favourite aspect of this trial was having cuddles and playing with the babies during the 30 minutes post-vaccination observation period, but safe distancing has inhibited me and sadly I’m not getting close anymore.

Many things have changed; some add positivity where you wouldn’t expect to find it. I have tried to support ‘Scrubs for the NHS – Bath’ and other local ‘scrub hubs’ on social media – my son designed their logo. They are a community of volunteers, together making scrubs, hats, gowns and scrub bags for all healthcare workers who need them. They are inspirational to me, pulling together to keep us safe through this crisis. When I received my first pair of scrubs, their label made me smile. It read ‘Handmade with love: for the love of scrubs’. 
Take care
Mary Anne Fifield
Research Nurse