UNC Health Workers Called to Join National PCORnet® Study to Fight COVID-19

The HeroesResearch.org clinical research registry is designed to answer crucial questions about the impact of novel coronavirus on health care workers’ lives, and includes a multi-site clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine led at UNC by Ross Boyce, MD, assistant professor of medicine.

Contact: Carleigh Gabryel, 919-864-0580, carleigh.gabryel@unchealth.unc.edu

CHAPEL HILL, NC –  April 15, 2020 – The Healthcare Worker Exposure Response & Outcomes (HERO) Registry launched this week, inviting U.S. health care workers to share clinical and life experiences in order to understand the perspectives and problems faced by those on the COVID-19 pandemic front lines.

The HERO research program leverages PCORnet®, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, and is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

The registry will unite America’s health care workers into a community to facilitate rapid-cycle research, including an upcoming large study of hydroxychloroquine’s effectiveness in preventing coronavirus infections in health care workers, called HERO-HCQ.

HERO-HCQ is a randomized clinical trial of approximately 15,000 HERO Registry participants across the U.S. that will evaluate whether hydroxychloroquine (brand name Plaquenil®) is better than placebo in preventing COVID-19 infection over a 30-day period. It will be conducted through clinical research sites in PCORnet, including UNC Health, which has been designated as a vanguard site for the trial. UNC’s principal investigator, Ross Boyce, MD, assistant professor of medicine, says they are hoping to recruit 375 participants throughout the UNC Health system.

“Many UNC physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other support staff will be eligible to participate,” Boyce said. “Participants are not required to provide direct patient care, but must work in settings that put them at higher risk for COVID-19 exposure.”

Boyce and a team have been working quickly to make UNC’s participation possible. Those team members include David Wohl, MD, professor of medicine, David Margolis, MD, professor of medicine, Raquel Reyes, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Natalie Bowman, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Emily Ciccone, MD, clinical fellow in the department of medicine, Amy James Loftis, Grace Onyebuchi, MD, MPH, Shelby Turney, Felicia Barriga Munante, RayeAnne Heap, Catherine Kronk and Tricia Holder.

Anyone interested in participating in the trial must first go through the HERO Registry, which is asking hundreds of thousands of health care professionals to participate, including emergency responders, food service workers, environmental services workers, interpreters, and transporters – anyone who works in a setting where people receive health care.

“UNC Health is proud to be a vanguard site for this important study connecting front line health care workers from across the country," said Wesley Burks, MD, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO of UNC Health. "Thank you to Dr. Ross Boyce for his leadership on the study and thank you to our dedicated co-workers who choose to participate in the registry.”

The goals of the registry are to engage health care workers in a research community, understand their experiences and interests through ongoing surveys, and track critical health outcomes associated with caring for patients with COVID-19, such as stress and burnout.

“We hope to get as many people as possible working at UNC Health to sign up for the HERO registry. From there we can find eligible participants for the HERO-HCQ trial,” Boyce said. “The trial will only require two visits to Chapel Hill over a two-month period and most data is collected through online portals, which we hope is manageable for health care workers across the UNC Health system.”

There is no cost to enroll in the HERO Registry and registration takes only a few minutes. Health care workers can participate as much or as little as they like in surveys and other opportunities. The registry will follow a protocol developed by the DCRI and data guidelines to keep health care worker information secure.

To learn more about the HERO Registry, visit https://heroesresearch.org.

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