Mid-March, UNC Research vastly reduced and restricted campus research activity in response to COVID-19. The University’s March 13th temporary hold on all in-person study visits temporarily restricted the work of UNC Radiology’s Clinical Research division. Nonetheless, the team remained very much active and thriving. All clinical research staff began working from home, and studies allowing remote follow-up visits and all retrospective studies continued virtually. Though in-person study interactions remained temporarily on hold, the Clinical Research team sustained new study start-up, core image de-identification and transmittal, internal monitoring of Radiology studies, data entry, and database development and improvements.
In June 2020, the clinical research group moved to an alternating work schedule with team rotation that placed 50% on campus each day. Onsite, team members did not interact. In-person study visits resumed, with strictly adherence to COVID-19 safeguards, including: wellness screenings, social distancing, face masks, eye protection and surface sanitizing each work shift. Team members limited interaction with study participants and conducted participant consent and follow-up by phone when possible.
Director of Clinical Research Ari Isaacson, MD, noted: “COVID-19 has not stopped clinical research in the Radiology Department. The pandemic restrictions may have slowed research operations for a few months, but our research department, like many others on campus, has found alternative ways of continuing research and enrolling and contacting study participants.”