As research and information on COVID-19 surfaced globally, medical professionals began collaborating to study the infectious disease. McFarland Clinic joined the race to help treat COVID patients and to prevent their colleagues, friends and families from being affected by the virus.
Information about COVID-19 symptoms, policies, and testing at McFarland Clinic.
PMG Research of McFarland Clinic is intensively working on clinical trials for COVID-19 prevention and treatment. PMG Research Inc. is a global integrated network of clinical research facilities, conducting clinical trials since 1979. McFarland Clinic’s Research department began in 2005, and began collaborating with PMG in March 2017.
“We partner with value-based healthcare institutions and multi-specialty practices that also see the value of clinical research and the benefit of offering it as a care option to the patients for whom they serve,” PMG Research Manager of Clinical Operations Erin Hackett said.
The research hub is staffed by an experienced team with Principal Investigators in a variety of specialties. The research team is comprised of these professionals in a variety of specialties including allergy, cardiology, dermatology, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, and oncology.
McFarland Clinic Adult Medicine Physician Jennifer Killion, MD is a principal investigator in the COVID-19 clinical trials at PMG McFarland. The current trials are looking at treatments and preventative measures for COVID-19. In her role, Dr. Killion is responsible for making sure that protocols are followed, monitoring of patient safety, and signing off on all of the delegation. Dr. Killion said she was already training to become a principal investigator through PMG when COVID came to Iowa, and she wanted to become involved in the COVID trials.
“I asked our research group, PMG, if they had any studies, because it looked like there was nothing to offer these (COVID) patients but supportive care and research drugs I couldn’t get my hands on,” she said.
Dr. Killion said one of the greatest challenges in the trials was patience.
“We were learning so much so quickly. Having patience was a challenge. I think the urgency has everyone ready to jump, but we still have to do the research the right way, or we don’t learn what we need to save lives,” she said.
Dr. Killion was involved in a 2019 pneumonia vaccine trial before the COVID trials began. When it comes to medical opportunities and studies, she said this one is very different because it is personal to her.
“My patients are all in high-risk categories. My parents, husband, brother and sister-in-law are in high risk categories. Some of my colleagues are even in high risk categories. There is a lot to lose there,” she said.
McFarland Clinic Neurologist David Moore, MD stepped into the role of the clinic’s Director of Research position in November 2019. In his new role, he helps oversee clinical trials from the clinical perspective.
“This has been something that the clinic has been doing, with some research trials looking at vaccines,” Dr. Moore said.
PMG finds studies that the clinic and providers are interested in doing, and puts together teams to begin facilitating the studies. When COVID began spreading in Iowa, Dr. Moore said that no one expected the shift in these studies to happen so quickly, especially with an infectious disease that was quickly changing.
“There have been viruses that have been out there that are Coronaviruses. At the time we were made aware of COVID-19, no one ever thought it would be like this, like a rapidly affecting virus because it is spread by air and not by touch,” Dr. Moore said.
Dr. Moore said the next challenge after finding a vaccine or drug against COVID will be the potential complications of the infection.
“I’ve read about pandemics like the 1918 pandemic; Parkinson’s (Disease) came out of it,” he said. “We don’t know about the potential outcomes from COVID like permanent disabilities with patients’ lungs or other diseases.”
When that time occurs, Dr. Moore hopes McFarland Clinic will be part of the medical community to begin researching and finding solutions to those outcomes when they appear.