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SAEMF Grantees Make a Difference in the Understanding of COVID-19 Last year, as we began to navigate the pandemic and its impact on emergency medicine, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Foundation (SAEMF) awarded two important grants to aid in the understanding of COVID-19. The first $25,000 grant was awarded to Bernard Chang, MD, PhD from Columbia University Bernard P. Chang, MD, PhD, for his study “The Recipient of the 2020-21 Psychological Effects SAEMF COVID-19 Research of COVID-19 Amongst Grant - $25,000 Emergency Providers.” Here’s a bit of background about his meaningful study and its goals: The emergency department is the gateway to the health care system, and the safety net for our society. This is not our first pandemic or disaster, and previous work has established that front line health care workers (HCWs), such as emergency physicians and nurses, are vulnerable to the development of adverse behavioral and psychological sequelae, which may persist long after the disaster. This SAEMF-funded study will look at the longterm development of psychological distress amongst emergency staff following the COVID-19 pandemic. The results will inform our understanding of psychological stress among front line providers following COVID-19 and ideally lead to the development of interventions aimed at protecting the mental and physical well-being of our critical front line, as we navigate this and future public health crises. Now over halfway through the completion of his project, Dr. Chang has found striking results: “In our study we successfully enrolled 244 participants to date (target n=250; 98% enrollment target), with enrollments across four hospital sites in the New York Metropolitan area. Our preliminary findings identified that


approximately 60% of health care providers endorsed some anxiety and/or depressive symptoms in the wake of the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic during March and April, with those working in areas of high acuity, most vulnerable to development of anxiety and/or depressive symptoms. “In our study we also had participants wear accelerometer devices (e.g., Fitbit watches) capturing sleep and resting heart rate, in addition to daily home blood pressure readings with a Bluetooth enabled monitoring device. Physiologically, sleep was disrupted in providers, with clinicians sleeping on average 6.12 hours a day compared to 6.45 hours prior to the pandemic (based on another existing dataset of cardiovascular data we have among emergency department providers that we have conducted here at Columbia). “Finally, resting blood pressure and heart rate was within normal limits among our sample; however, interestingly, post-shift resting heart rate and blood pressure was increased by 20% and 8% respectively, over a period of 12 hours after shift completion, suggesting some prolonged ‘stress response’ in the wake of shifts. “Thanks to this generous SAEMF grant, we were able to use this pilot work to submit an R01 grant to National Institutes of Health (NIH) that was favorably reviewed and received a fundable score after study section review. If this five-year longitudinal study (R01) from (HL HL157341) is ultimately funded by the NIH, this will be among the largest prospective longitudinal studies on front line provider psychological and cardiovascular health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you again to the individual and institutional donors of SAEMF. We are so grateful for your support!” The second SAEMF COVID-19 grant of $25,000 was awarded to Evan Bradley, MD, PhD, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, for "Nasopharyngeal Microbiome and Clinical Outcomes in Patients with COVID-19.” Dr. Bradley’s research focused on the effects of SARS-nCOV2 on the nasopharyngeal microbiome. He hypothesized that there may be reliable features of the nasopharyngeal microbiome that are associated with COVID-19 that may aid in the diagnosis of infection, even if standard testing is negative. The community