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24 Jun 2020

Anonymous donation supports COVID-19 health services research

A generous anonymous donor has provided $1 million in funding to support the Doherty Institute’s work on COVID-19, $500,000 of which will be directed towards boosting priority health services research.

The research will bolster public health services to ensure they’re poised to respond to the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 across three significant projects:

  • A home-based service that uses mobile phone technology to monitor patients diagnosed with COVID-19. This may be suitable for patients who are discharged from hospital with instructions to self-isolate and self-monitor, returning to hospital only if they feel significantly unwell. This approach has been successfully utilised in supporting cardiac rehabilitation for patients who cannot access inpatient care.
  • An online digital mental health platform for healthcare workers impacted by COVID-19, complementing existing services to direct frontline staff to appropriate information and care. The platform will provide access to key messages and skills to help them manage distress in patients and their families based on Psychological First Aid and Trauma Informed Care training. It will also provide access to digital tools to enable healthcare workers to track, reflect and respond to their own psychological wellbeing.
  • Investigating the use of saliva as a suitable and effective specimen for testing for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory viruses. Results from this project will inform whether saliva can be used as an alternative diagnostic specimen to swab testing, which would reduce the use of swabs, enable members of the public to self-collect their own saliva, and offer further protection to healthcare workers, as it does not involve close contact in the way that swabbing does.

University of Melbourne Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, said the projects would combine the expertise and technology from across the Institute and its partners to support health services to meet the demands of COVID-19.

“With the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19 affecting public health services, healthcare workers and the public, we are putting our innovation and expertise into finding effective solutions,” Professor Lewin said.

“These projects have scalability and adaptability in mind, as we look to design platforms that can be deployed across diverse communities living with the impacts of COVID-19.”

The remaining $500,000 will contribute to a large project that will be announced at a later date.

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