This week we interviewed Rachael Solomon who grew up South African but currently lives and works in the Netherlands. She trained to be a General Practitioner, Psychiatric, Community nurse and Midwife in South Africa. After her training she moved to Birmingham in the UK, where she worked in the medical department of the University Hospital. After a couple of years she returned to South Africa and worked at a Psychiatric Hospital. Due to family commitments Rachael then went into the teaching profession. In order to combine her teaching experience with nursing, she went into clinical research and got a job at a clinical research organization (CRO).
We were excited to interview Rachael not only to learn more about her opinion on the communication with patients during the crisis and clinical trials, but also to highlight the importance of nursing staff during the COVID-19crisis. We all know that medical staff are key to overcome this pandemic, and at The Future of Healthcare we believe it is important to put the spotlight on the vital work of nursing.
Rachael was asked about the efforts she is putting forth in monitoring the virus and how it is affecting people who live in different countries.
“So, I know how different countries are dealing with the pandemic and at what stage they are at. And it is very interesting to see how different health organizations and people are coping with the COVID-19 virus in all these different countries. What I do is I read a lot of articles and keep up with the news.’’
In regards to how information is being delivered to the public she said that the South African president, along with other ministers, use information from the World Health Organization (WHO), which is delivered to the public during the presidential address. South Africa properly adheres with the WHO guideline on issues like tracking, tracing, testing, isolating and supporting of individuals infected by the virus.
Clinical trials have already begun. Subjects that are recruited for these trials include those who have already recovered from the COVID-19 virus or those who are currently dealing with it. Many who have recovered from the virus, have donated their blood for research purposes. While in a clinical trial, medical personnel work hard to educate patients on infection control during the trial. The CROs should be responsible for providing the quarantine facilities while the research is taking place. Because there is a demand on the healthcare systems at a global level, the CROs are more equipped to set up facilities for clinical trials to take place.
Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is very crucial in the healthcare field. The patient equipment is just as vital in order to keep track of the trials. Equipment can include monitors, patient tracking and testing equipment. CROs should be responsible for providing the PPE and equipment as well as offering support to patients while in the trials.
Patients and healthcare professionals involved in a trial need to be given all the information and explanations before participating, in order to successfully complete the trial. Some of these include:
- Some patients will receive placebos while others are receiving the actual drug being tested.
- Sometimes there are no side effects when on the placebo. At the same time, the patient that is currently taking the testing drug may get better while the other patient on the placebo will not.
- It is important that the researchers are honest with healthcare professionals in order for them to provide the right information to patients regarding the drug on trial.
- In the past, trials would seem to gear more towards people who live in poverty and those who cannot afford medications to get better. Now, organizations such as EMA, FDA, and WMA are monitoring the clinical trials to ensure that they are fair and that all standards, rules and regulations are followed and met.
- Social media coverage of the COVID-19 virus seems to have become misleading in some regards and it makes it hard on society to determine what is true and what is false.
- In some clinical trials the healthcare professionals and subjects do not know which patients get the drug on trial and who gets the placebo.
Rachael concluded the interview by stating that ‘’in the future, it will be very important to build trust and educate the public about the benefits of participating in clinical research and clinical trials, but also for the public to rely on the advice of medical professionals instead of relying on fake news on social media. This will be a struggle but a goal that can be reached.’’