Researcher will lead two separate COVID-19 studies at Niagara Health


Published November 17, 2021 at 1:58 pm

A seasoned researcher at Niagara Health will lead two separate studies at the health unit – both connected to COVID-19.

Dr. Jennifer Tsang is heading up Intensive Care Unit (ICU) research studies – the first geared towards understanding health outcomes for COVID-19 patients, meaning the longer-term effects of contracting the virus, often referred to a “Long-COVID.”

The second is to “inform the development of a national strategy to expand clinical research in community hospitals in Canada,” making them more prepared for events such as a pandemic.

“Dr. Tsang has been at the forefront of a national movement to bring more medical research into community hospital settings like Niagara Health, where most patients receive their care,” says Dr. Johan Viljoen, Chief of Staff and Vice President of Medical Affairs, and Executive Lead for Niagara Health’s Research Office.

“She is uniquely positioned to lead these two new studies, having worked on the front lines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, being part of the team leading a number of COVID-19 research studies at Niagara Health.

Dr. Tsang said the research “we conduct at Niagara Health has a profound impact on the health and well-being of our patients and communities.”

“While medical research is traditionally conducted in academic hospitals that are affiliated with universities, the majority of patients in Canada receive care in community hospitals. These two research studies will build on Niagara Health’s leadership to build research capacity in a community hospital setting and ultimately benefit patients in Niagara and across Canada.”

Both studies are supported by the PSI Foundation, a non-profit physician-centred organization dedicated to improving the health of Ontarians through grants. The studies are described as:

  • A two-year study on health outcomes of patients with COVID-19 in Ontario ICUs will examine demographic, clinical characteristic, life support therapy and outcome data for patients with COVID-19
    admitted to Ontario’s academic and community ICUs to identify key similarities and differences between these populations. The study, which is in partnership with Dr. Alexandra Binnie from William Osler Health System, may further highlight the importance of expanding clinical research to community hospitals.
  • A three-year study on the role community hospitals play in filling the gaps in Canada’s clinical research infrastructure will help explore and explain facilitators and barriers to community ICU research participation, as well as understand the processes needed to establish and sustain community ICU research programs. The study will gather data to inform the development of a national strategy for the expansion of clinical research to community ICUs in Canada. Engaging community hospitals in clinical research has the potential to increase patient enrolment, broaden the diversity of enrolled patients, speed up completion of clinical trials, and ultimately improve care, health and well-being

(Below photo from Niagara Health shows Dr. Jennifer Tsang on the right)

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