Clinical Trial ‘Heroes’ on Front Lines of Coronavirus Testing Initiatives

Clinical Researchers in Louisiana Training National Guard to Support COVID-19 Testing

Clinical trial practitioners—especially those capable of conducting the specific nasopharyngeal swabbing used to test for COVID-19—have an opportunity to “step up” and help combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus, say several healthcare leaders on the front lines already demonstrating that capability.

“We have recently completed a training course for 60 National Guard medics in Louisiana,” says Robert Jeanfreau, MD, CPI, owner and medical director at MedPharmics, LLC. In the course, Jeanfreau and team demonstrated the appropriate technique for nasopharyngeal swabbing and the donning of personal protective equipment. “Each medic performed the swabbing on a buddy,” he says. Trained personnel “personally observed each individual to demonstrate mastery of the techniques,” Jeanfreau adds.

These medics are donating their time attending drive-through testing sites in New Orleans and surrounding areas, says Jeanfreau, who spoke to ACRP on Wednesday afternoon (March 25) from a Louisiana study site. “The medics are performing admirably,” he reports.

Major Lawrence Toups of the Louisiana National Guard says they can currently administer about 250 tests per day at their facilities. “It’s been going smoothly, but demand is high,” he says.

“There is probably going to be a need for this in hundreds of other places across the country,” Jeanfreau notes. He called on other clinical trial practitioners to reach out to their local health officials to see if they can help set up drive-through testing sites in their communities. “ACRP members have an opportunity to step up and fill this gap,” he notes.

In California, Jodi Akin, founder and CEO at Hawthorne Effect, Inc., and team have been in action setting up pop-up testing sites in hard hit San Mateo and Santa Clara. Akin applauded the healthcare “heroes,” including doctors, nurses, EMTs, and paramedics, who are working the testing stations, which have the capacity to administer about 400 tests per day.

Ultimately, Akin and team are looking for safe ways to bring the testing directly to patients in their homes, she says.

Prior to founding Hawthorne Effect, Inc., Akin was global vice president for clinical affairs at Edwards Lifesciences, LLC, where she led the seminal clinical trials and regulatory approvals for transcatheter heart valve therapy. She also led international healthcare initiatives, including Heart To Heart International Children’s Medical Alliance, the Nahapetov Friendship Foundation, and the China Heart Group, a joint venture with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

Author: Michael Causey