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Research / COVID-19

 

 

 

COVID-19 Research Updates

This page will provide updates pertinent to Research at St. Joe's.

For COVID-19 updates related to the Hospital and clinical care, please click here.

Contents:

Click here to access McMaster University's Research FAQs related to equipment, lab shutdowns, and other resources.


 

Joint Message from RSJH, HHS, and McMaster

March 17, 2020

Dear members of the McMaster research community,

The provincial declaration of emergency and other rapidly developing circumstances in the pandemic are impacting research at McMaster, and I wanted to bring you up to date on what we need to do to meet new social distancing and other measures introduced by government, and to ensure the health and safety of our community both on and off campus.

McMaster’s research is not closing down, but we do need to think about what research needs to continue at this time and how can we make sure our research staff is well-informed and know that their well-being is of the utmost importance.

After consulting with the Associate Deans of Research (ADR) and other university and hospital leaders, the university is issuing the following directives:

No research with subjects that require face-to-face contact, unless these are on-going interventional or clinical studies that impact human health.

  1. No new animal-based research; completion of current, on-going animal studies to continue with some adaptations, in consultation with the Central Animal Facility.
  2. No initiation of new research experiments that require campus access, unless they are associated with emergency COVID-19 funding or involve activities focusing on patient health and safety. Please discuss such plans with your ADR and the VPR before proceeding. Research that can be completed remotely (e.g. online) that is not impacted by social distancing policies may continue. 
  3. Researchers and groups must develop plans to close down existing research within university facilities on short notice, including plans for waste disposal and identification of essential services to maintain research samples, facilities and infrastructure where appropriate.

 

SPECIAL DIRECTIVES FOR HOSPITAL-BASED RESEARCH:

For those whose labs and facilities are physically located in hospital settings, hospitals will be restricting personnel to those deemed essential.

Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare will be screening at the entrances of all their sites. Your McMaster University identification will be required to gain entry.

As the need to ensure the health and safety of patients and hospital staff is a top priority, research within labs and facilities on hospital property will be restricted to research associated with emergency COVID-19 funding or involving activities focusing on patient health and safety, at the approval of the appropriate VPRs (McMaster University, Dr. Karen Mossman; Hamilton Health Sciences, Dr. Ted Scott; St. Joseph’s Healthcare, Dr. Jack Gauldie).

For clinical trials and patient-based research, active accrual should be interrupted until further notice and no new studies should be started.  Trials with scheduled interventions that have already begun should be allowed to continue as long as the individuals registered in the trial pass the active screening that will be in effect at our host hospitals until further notice. 

We appreciate your support during these unprecedented times. Further updates will be shared as the situation develops. FAQs will soon be posted on-line to further assist the research community.

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Research-specific issues at SJHH

To: All Research Personnel, including but not limited to: RSJH Staff, SJHH Staff, Physicians, Principal Investigators; McMaster and HHS personnel located at SJHH, Students, and Research Volunteers.

Updates in this message:

  1. Active screening for all persons entering SJHH facilities
  2. Changes to learners at St. Joe's
  3. Clinical trials and other research work at SJHH sites
  4. Returning to SJHH facilities after travel

1. Effective Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, St. Joe’s will enact active screening at its entrances for all persons entering SJHH facilities.

This means:

  • Access to all SJHH buildings, at all three main campus sites, will be restricted.
  • Some entrances will be closed.
  • ALL PERSONS entering St. Joe’s three main campus sites will be screened before entering.
  • Personnel will be screened through a streamlined process. You must have your ID badge in this process as you enter the building.

All personnel: Please use one of the following entrances and bring your ID badge:

 

Charlton from 6 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.

  • Roof Deck (outside of Cafeteria)
  • Luke Entrance to the south of Emergency Entrance door

Charlton from 11:30 p.m. – 6 a.m.

  • Emergency entrance

West 5th

  • Main entrance (West 5th Street) Level 1
  • Outpatient entrance (Fennel Avenue) Level 0

King

  • Main entrance
  • Dialysis entrance

 

Please speak with your manager if you work in an off-campus building.

When you arrive, the following screening questions will be posted:

  1. Do you have a fever and/or new or worsening cough or difficulty breathing?
  2. Have you been in contact with someone who is sick and had travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days?
  3. Have you been in contact with someone with probable or confirmed COVID-19?

If your answer is “NO” to all questions, show your badge to the screener and enter the hospital.

If you travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days and have no fever, new cough, or difficulty breathing, you will be allowed to proceed to work and asked to self-monitor for 14 days.

If your answer is “YES” to any questions above, you will be asked to proceed to a designated location at each campus for secondary screening.

This is an evolving situation and the process for staff/physician screening may change. A digital screening tool for staff/physicians is under development to help expedite the screening process. More updates will be provided over the coming days. We thank you for your patience and understanding during this transition.

At Charlton Campus, there will be separate entrances for screening patients/visitors. These entrances will be the main entrance (Charlton Street driveway), Juravinski Tower level 0 entrance, Fontbonne Level 1 and Emergency Entrance (2100-0600 only).

At West 5th and King Campuses, the same entrances as listed above for personnel will be used, with separate queues for staff/physicians and patients/visitors.

Visit stjoes.ca for more information on the screening process for patients and visitors:https://www.stjoes.ca/our-stories/news/~2078-COVID-19-Screening-at-Hospital-Entrances

 

Hamilton COVID-19 Assessment Centres open

King Campus has opened one of two Hamilton COVID-19 Assessment Centres. The other one is at Hamilton Health Sciences’ Main Street West Urgent Care Centre. For information, go to the Hamilton Public Health website: https://www.hamilton.ca/public-health/covid-19/covid-19-assessment-centres

  

2. Changes to learners at St. Joe's

In collaboration with McMaster University, Mohawk College and Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), the following decision was made regarding our learners. We want to emphasize that our learners make valuable contributions to our organization and St. Joe’s remains committed to working with them and our academic partners. This has been a difficult decision and one that has not been made lightly. The situation will continue to be assessed.

All clinical and non-clinical learner placements at St. Joe’s are paused including undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students except for:

  • Post graduate medical residents
  • Clinical fellows
  • Undergraduate Medical Education Program Clinical Clerks
  • RESEARCH LEARNERS (graduate students and postdoctoral fellows) who are essential to the continuity of research

Specific groups: Learning activities at St. Joe’s are paused until further notice for the following groups:

  • All nursing students (including those enrolled in BScN, NP and RPN programs)
  • All Physician Assistant students
  • All students enrolled in inter-professional health care discipline programs
  • RESEARCH LEARNERS (graduate students and postdoctoral fellows) non-essential to the continuity of research

IF YOU ARE NOT CLEAR ON WHETHER YOUR ROLE AND/OR YOUR PHYSICAL PRESENCE ON SITE IS ESSENTIAL TO THE CONTINUITY OF RESEARCH AT THIS TIME OR NOT, CONTACT YOUR SUPERVISOR/Principal Investigator (PI).

Should questions arise regarding the designation of essential participation or essential research, this can be clarified by PIs/ Supervisors contacting the VP Research SJHH for final decision. Retrospective chart review type of research with no patient contact can be allowed in some instances at VPR discretion.

 

3. Clinical trials and other research work at SJHH sites:

  • Active accrual for clinical trials should be interrupted until further notice.
  • No new studies should be started. New/ongoing studies for essential research such as COVID19-related research can be approved by the VP Research SJHH.
  • Persons already entered into trials with scheduled interventions, should be allowed to continue if they pass the active screening that will be in effect at all three main campus sites of SJHH from March 17th, 2020, until further notice.
  • In due course RSJH administration will be providing notices required under any contracts to indicate the possible effects of current practices on ongoing trials.

 

4. A reminder to all personnel returning from travel:

From the Government of Canada, an official global travel advisory is in effect: Avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.

Further information can be found at https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/latest-travel-health-advice.html

 

PLEASE NOTE THIS IS A RAPIDLY EVOLVING SITUATION AND ADVICE WILL CHANGE POSSIBLY DAILY.

SJHH position on travel at the present time is:

If you have travelled to China, Iran or Italy within the past 14 days, regardless of whether you have symptoms or not:

  • YOU CANNOT RETURN TO WORK/SJHH SITE
  • Stay home and self-isolate
  • Inform Employee Health/Occupational Health and Safety at ext. 36131 or email covid19@stjoes.ca
  • Contact your local Public Health Unit (Hamilton Public Health Unit 905 546-2424 ext 7970)
  • RESEARCH LEARNERS – additionally, follow any instructions issued by your academic home

If you have travelled outside of Canada within the past 14 days and are returning to work and if you and your family members who have travelled with you are free of symptoms:

  • Return to work/SJHH site and SELF-MONITOR for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days, including taking your temperature twice a day (Symptoms: New/worsening cough or shortness of breath OR fever)
  • Inform Employee Health/Occupational Health and Safety at ext. 36131 or email covid19@stjoes.ca of your return
  • Stay at home if you develop symptoms and inform Employee Health/Occupational Health and Safety at ext. 36131 or email covid19@stjoes.ca and contact your local Public Health Unit (Hamilton Public Health Unit 905 546-2424 ext 7970)
  • RESEARCH LEARNERS – additionally, follow any instructions issued by your academic home

If you have travelled outside of Canada within the past 14 days and are returning to work and you and/or family members who have travelled with you have symptoms:

  • YOU CANNOT RETURN TO WORK/SJHH SITE
  • Inform Employee Health/Occupational Health and Safety at ext. 36131 or email covid19@stjoes.ca
  • Contact your local Public Health Unit (Hamilton Public Health Unit 905 546-2424 ext 7970) if you develop any symptoms (Symptoms: New/worsening cough or shortness of breath OR fever)
  • RESEARCH LEARNERS – additionally, follow any instructions issued by your academic home

 

Reminder to all staff

At all times, if you are sick or feeling unwell with respiratory symptoms and fever, or nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea stay home and only return to work when you are well. 

Personal travel: St. Joe’s continues to strongly discourage travel outside of Canada.

Work travel: St. Joe’s has discontinued all work travel outside of Canada.

 

More information:

Regular updates on COVID-19 are posted on MyStJoes, the hospital intranet:  

 

We encourage everyone to turn to trusted sources for information:

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HiREB Protocol Amendments

During the current COVID-19 pandemic situation researchers need to consider their in-person interactions with participants/patients. You are reminded to follow your institutional/public health policies for participant/patient management.

Should your current protocol or study design require revision to now include alternate forms of interaction with participants/patients (whether consent or study visits), you will still need to submit an amendment to the HiREB. If you need to implement changes to eliminate immediate hazards for staff or participants, then such a change would be reported to us as a protocol deviation.

Please note the HiREB will process these amendments as priority.

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2020 Research Institute Awards Program – Deadline Extension

Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the application deadline for the 2020 Research Institute Awards Program has been extended to April 30, 2020, 11:59pm. (originally March 31). This extension will allow extra time for those whose ability to meet the original deadline has been impacted by the current situation.

For Studentship Award applications, unofficial transcripts will be accepted with the understanding that the official transcript will be sent at a later date (to be determined). This is to accommodate McMaster University’s deferral of all transcript requests made to the Registrar’s Office. 

Visit the Awards page to learn more and apply online.

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Hospital Visitor Restrictions

As part of our ongoing efforts to protect the public, patients, staff, and physicians from the potential transmission of the COVID-19 virus, effective March 20, 2020, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is implementing a no visitor policy.

Click here to learn more about the No Visitor policy.

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Guidelines on the Management of Critically Ill Adults with Coronavirus Disease 2019

The guidelines can be accessed freely on the Society of Critical Care Medicine website.

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Information for Research Participants

Last updated March 27, 2020

The Research Institute is working with our clinical partners at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton to ensure the safety of our research participants, research staff, and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, the Hospital has instituted a No Visitor Policy. Please see below for more information related to research participation.

 

Should I continue to come in to St. Joe’s for my research visit?

  • Participant safety is a top priority for us. Your study team is carefully considering which visits are needed in-person, and which may be done over the phone or through other means.
  • Please follow the self-screening guidelines for visiting the Hospital:
    • If you have a research visit scheduled and have a new or worsening cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath (worse than normal), or runny nose, please call your study team to see if you should still come to the Hospital.
  • St. Joe’s has limited entrances to our sites and is conducting COVID-19 screening of all patients, research participants, staff, and physicians. A list of entrances is available here.
  • Upon arrival, you will be asked:
    • Do you have a fever and new/worsening cough, or shortness of breath?
    • Have you travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days?    
    • Have you been in contact with someone who is sick and had travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days?
  •  We recommend arriving 30 minutes before any scheduled appointment in case of delays due to the screening process.

 

Is it safe to come to the Hospital?

  • At this time, the risk of contracting the virus at the Hospital remains low.
  • Continue to follow proper hygiene:
    • Wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer often
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially while in public
    • Whenever possible, maintain a distance of 2 meters (6 feet) from others

 

If the situation changes, will I be notified?

  • If the risk level changes, your study team will contact you to discuss the next steps for future appointments and your ongoing participation in research.
  • If you have any questions about coming to the Hospital, please contact your study team.

 

Do I have to come for my research visit? What if I don’t want to?

  • Your participation in a research study is always voluntary and you are not required to keep an appointment. However, there may be safety-related concerns with missed study treatments or visits.
  • Speak with your study team if you have any concerns about your appointment, or if you don’t feel comfortable coming to the Hospital.

 

What if I have travelled outside of Canada over the past 14 days?

  • At this time, the Government of Canada is requiring everyone who has travelled outside of Canada within the past 14 days to self-isolate at home.
  • As of March 25, 14-day self-isolation for returning travellers is mandatory under the Quarantine Act.

 

Where can I find the latest information from St. Joe’s?

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