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Mary Anne Fifield: COVID-19 research update

Mary Anne Fifield: COVID-19 research update
Last week, we shared a blog about Mary Anne Fifield's journey to becoming a research nurse.

As Heart of Bath Medical Partnership are preparing to contribute to research into the COVID-19 pandemic, we've asked Mary for an update on their preparations. Here’s how her working week developed:

Thursday 02 April
A COVID-19 Hot Hub was to open in the new wing of Oldfield Surgery. To clear space for the new service, our team had to pack up and move an entire clinical trials unit in one day. Two of us packed up our entire office and treatment room into a van and relocated everything – 3 tall, lockable cupboards, a minus 20 degrees freezer, a large temperature-controlled lockable fridge, 2 centrifuges, 2 ECG machines, all our equipment, all our many boxes of study files and so on. 

Becky, our study coordinator, and I started packing before even knowing where we were relocating to, which was slightly bewildering. We were so pleased to be doing something practical to help, although by the end of the day we were both physically exhausted, as you can imagine.  I was feeling in awe of the staff volunteering to man the front line in the Hot Hub. Happily, there’s an outlet for this every Thursday night these days, so I clapped just a bit harder than I did the week before.

Friday 03 April
Becky and I dressed appropriately to share the message ‘Supporting findings, diagnostics, treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19’ and joined the #Red4Research conversations on Twitter and Facebook. 

We both worked our days off to finish unpacking and to fully relocate the unit to Junction Road Surgery, which is currently shut. It turns out that clinical trials had been allocated its own space, just around the corner from our original location. We even have a garden with a tree in the centre.😊
Weekend 04 - 05 April 
Despite it being the weekend, the Primary Care Community of Practice WhatsApp group was buzzing with enthusiasm for the upcoming COVID-19 research opportunities. This group will be a useful resource for sharing information and advice so we can set-up quickly and deliver the clinical trials – the race is on to start PRINCIPLE
Monday 06 April 
Commercial research studies continue, though everything happens quite differently and depending on your sense of humour, slightly comically. This week I’m performing remote study visits, i.e. telephone calls, and afterwards, the study drug is dispensed via drive-through pick up by the patient or designated caregiver.  
In reality, this involves a short walk to Oldfield Surgery car park where I meet the patients and I perform the few steps forward to deliver the IMP, few steps backwards for social distancing and the patient takes a few steps forward to pick up the IMP and leave the diary pages, then few steps backwards for social distancing, then it’s my turn to step forwards to collect the diary pages. You know this routine, it’s that one we all do at the shops now. 
Tuesday 07 April
PRINCIPLE is in set-up. Becky is speeding ahead and being her super-efficient usual self, but in this instance, the study team are turning things around at a fast pace in parallel. We’re preparing, as are many sites in the West of England and nationally, to recruit patients. It’s incredibly exciting to be involved and contributing to the evidence base for COVID-19 treatments. 
Wednesday 08 April 
It’s officially my day off. I’m writing this diary update and completing the first week of the FutureLearn course: Managing COVID-19 in General Practice. It’s mind-boggling to read and recall that the first COVID-19 death in the UK was on 05 March 2020, just over one month ago.  
The course advice mirrors my previous advice about the importance of effective communication, with extra tips for active listening during remote consultations. The tone of voice is especially crucial, to reassure patients with high levels of anxiety during this pandemic.
Take care.
Mary Anne Fifield, Research Nurse.