Sarasota Memorial Hospital Foundation News

The Healthcare Foundation Helps Support Two National Clinical Trials at SMH Related to COVID-19 Treatment


APRIL 13, 2020

SMH Joins 2 National COVID-19 Clinical Research Trials

This week, SMH began two national clinical trials related to the treatment of COVID-19. The first study is testing the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir, while the second trial is evaluating the use of plasma donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat current patients.

Remdesivir has previously shown promise in the treatment of other types of coronaviruses. SMH is one of the first hospitals in the Southeast region to participate in this worldwide study to assess the medication’s safety and effectiveness in treating COVID-19. To be given the option to participate in the FDA-approved remdesivir trial at SMH, COVID-19 positive patients must be hospitalized in the ICU, on a ventilator and meet other clinical criteria.

The convalescent plasma study is a clinical trial that is coordinated with the Mayo Clinic to evaluate whether the antibodies in plasma from patients who have recovered from COVID-19 can help newly infected patients. The plasma from just one donor can be used to treat up to four patients. SMH is partnering with the Suncoast Blood Centers, which will collect and provide the donated plasma for this FDA-approved trial. Sarasota Memorial Hospital – Florida State University Internal Medicine resident physicians will collaborate with the SMH Clinical Research Team to help gather data to conduct this research.

“There is currently no proven, established treatment for COVID-19, which is why participating in this important research is a priority for SMH,” said Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder. “We are grateful to the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation for immediately stepping in to help support this work.”

Clinical research has always been one of the Healthcare Foundation’s key areas of focus.

“The Healthcare Foundation’s role is to support SMH in its mission of providing excellent healthcare to our community in good times—and in crisis,” said Mason Ayres, president of Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation. “We are incredibly thankful for the way our community continues to come forward and help during this unprecedented time of need.”

With a likely vaccine at least a year away, SMH was pleased to add the investigational treatments to its arsenal of care for COVID-19 patients. In addition to participating in the two clinical trials, Sarasota Memorial also is using the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as well as high dose steroids and specialized antibiotics in the treatment of some patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

Watch this video news briefing about the clinical trials with SMH Chief Medical Officer James Fiorica, MD; SMH Medical Director of Clinical Research Kirk Voelker, MD; and SMH Clinical Research Manager Tamela Fonseca, MSN:

Read the latest on coronavirus/COVID-19 from Sarasota Memorial.

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