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Two new ICU research studies underway at Niagara Health have potential to impact patient care locally and across the country

Posted Nov 16th, 2021

Niagara Health has two new Intensive Care Unit (ICU) research studies underway, one to better understand health outcomes for COVID-19 patients and the other to inform the development of a national strategy to expand clinical research in community hospitals in Canada. 

Dr. Jennifer Tsang is leading both studies and will draw on her experience as an intensivist physician who cares for critically ill patients. She is a seasoned researcher, and as our Physician Research Lead, she has been instrumental in fostering the growth of research at Niagara Health over the last several years.

“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.

Both studies are supported by the PSI Foundation:

  • 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

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

Niagara Health’s dedicated Research Office was established in 2015 to strengthen our research and academic partnerships and conduct research that would inform care, inspire innovation and create environments of collaborative learning. There are currently an estimated 45 research studies underway at Niagara involving Cardiology, Critical Care, Emergency Medicine, Internal Medicine, Interventional Radiology, Oncology, Pediatrics, and Surgery.

In addition, the Emergency Medicine Researchers of Niagara (EMRoN) program is an initiative taken by a group of physician researchers in the Emergency Department at Niagara Health. EMRoN is an evolving research incubator with the Niagara Regional Campus of McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and Niagara Health. The program is committed to advancing local community healthcare standards and sharing best practices with provincial and national peers. 

Read some of the recent publications related to COVID-19 contributed by Niagara Health’s Critical Care Research Team in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), Canadian Journal of Anesthesia and PLOS ONE.

Read more about the EMRoN team, projects and recent publications here.

Niagara Health System