LONDON, Ontario – St. Joseph’s Health Care London and Lawson Health Research Institute have announced plans to move forward with clinical trials testing a drug that could potentially be used to prevent and treat COVID-19. St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation will accelerate the creation of the studies by providing seed funding to get the research started through donor support. Based on the immediate need, The St. Joseph’s Health Crisis Fund has been created by St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation to enable these and other research studies currently in development through Lawson, the research arm of St. Joseph’s.
While supporting urgent COVID-19 clinical trials will be an immediate focus, The St. Joseph’s Health Crisis Fund will also support critical patient care equipment and care and comfort items
for healthcare staff and volunteers working on the frontlines of the pandemic across St. Joseph’s.
The initial clinical trials aim to study the use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventative medication and treatment for COVID-19. Led locally by Dr. Michael Silverman, Medical Director of St. Joseph’s Infectious Diseases Care Program, one trial will assess the safety and efficacy of using the drug to prevent COVID-19 in health care workers recently exposed to the virus. This trial will also assess the drug as a treatment for non-hospitalized patients with mild cases of the illness. St. Joseph’s will be one of many participating sites in the trial, which is being led by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre.
“There is much debate surrounding the drug hydroxychloroquine. We do not yet know whether it’s safe or effective, and it should not be routinely recommended until we do,” says Dr. Silverman, also a Lawson Associate Scientist and city-wide Chair/Chief of Infectious Diseases. “We plan to carefully study the drug through a randomized controlled trial and assess whether it can help combat COVID-19.”
Dr. Silverman is also partnering with Dr. Michael Borrie, Lawson Scientist and Geriatrician at St. Joseph’s, on a preventative trial to test the safety and efficacy of the drug for residents at Parkwood Institute who may be at a higher risk of infection and serious complications, such as requiring admittance to an intensive care unit.
“Lawson researchers like Drs. Silverman and Borrie excel in rapid response research,” says Dr. David Hill, Lawson Scientific Director. “Hospital-based research is uniquely positioned to handle these types of studies, as close proximity to patients and sample collection is essential.”
St. Joseph’s Infectious Diseases Program is the only program of its kind in the region. Dr.Silverman, head of St. Joseph’s Infectious Disease program, has worked with communities in crisis in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and the rainforests of Guyana. He is working closely with other health care partners in the London and surrounding area to coordinate the region’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Sisters of St. Joseph, who founded our organization, faced contagious diseases and other pandemics at different times in our 150+ year history,” says Michelle Campbell. “Today, it’s a different time, and a new disease. Now, more than ever, we ask our community to help us address the crisis facing us all.”
Those interested in donating to St. Joseph’s Health Crisis Fund are asked to visit St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation’s website to learn more at sjhcfoundation.org. Donations can be made online, through direct mail submissions or by calling the Foundation directly at 519-646-6085.
For more information:
Marketing & Communications Officer
St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation
Communications and External Relations
Lawson Health Research Institute
About St. Joseph’s Health Care London
Renowned for compassionate care, St. Joseph’s Health Care London is a leading academic health care centre in Canada dedicated to helping people live to their fullest by minimizing the effects of injury, disease and disability through excellence in care, teaching and research. Through partnership with Lawson Health Research Institute and our collaborative engagement with other health care and academic partners, St. Joseph’s has become an international leader in the areas of: chronic disease management; medical imaging; specialized mental health care; rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics; and surgery. St. Joseph’s operates through a wide range of hospital, clinic and long-term and community-based settings, including: St. Joseph’s Hospital; Parkwood Institute; Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care; and the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care.
About St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation
St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation
gathers, grows and grants philanthropic funds to enable St. Joseph’s Health Care London to pursue excellence in care, teaching and research. Through donor support, the foundation contributes to advances in the delivery of patient care, specialized equipment, research initiatives and capital funds at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Parkwood Hospital, Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care, Regional Mental Health Care London and Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care and Lawson Health Research Institute. As one of the largest charitable organizations in Southwestern Ontario, St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation is an accredited member of Imagine Canada’s Ethical Trustmark Program, which recognizes the foundation’s commitment to ethical fundraising and donor accountability.
About Lawson Health Research Institute
As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care London, and working in partnership with Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute
is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world.