WVU research team builds COVID-19 registry to understand impact on the state

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MORGANTOWN, WV (WBOY) — The West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute has created a COVID-19 patient registry that it hopes will help it and other researchers better understand how the virus has impacted West Virginia.

The institute is working in collaboration with WVU Medicine, and so far it has recorded more than 7,500 negative cases and more than 450 positive ones. Dr. Sally Hodder, the director of the institute, said often the nation turns to cities like San Francisco and New York for guidance, but that is not a good way to go about things because West Virginia is very different and needs to be examined individually.

Dr. Sally Hodder
Director, WVCTSI

“The patient registry looks at our population and looks at outcomes, patient outcomes, whether perhaps some of the things that either improved outcomes or were associated with worsened outcomes and it can really sort of give you what we call hypothesis-generating. It raises questions that can be looked at in a more focused manner.”

– Dr. Sally Hodder

There have been reports from around the country, Hodder said, that indicate African Americans have worsened outcomes when it comes to COVID-19, but their own registry has yet to confirm this. However, because the registry records patients’ basic demographic information, like their age, race and gender, the institute will be able to pinpoint how or why certain populations, like the African American community, may have been affected more by the virus than others.

Hodder said many factors, like geography and race, could explain why there are disparities, but that they won’t know until they have added as many people to the registry as possible. Currently, the institute is in discussions with other healthcare systems in the state, in order to add its data to the registry to create a more comprehensive data set.

“We have other terrific partners that include Charleston Area Medical Center, Marshall University, the Osteopathic School down in Lewisburg, West Virginia, the V.A., and I think it would be a real strength,” Hodder said. “We’ve had some discussions with some of those groups, and absolutely, they’re really terrific partners and effectively contribute to many of the programs.”

Hodder said they are also looking to work with states that have large rural populations like West Virginia.

Overall, Hodder said she thinks the people and state government of West Virginia have done a “fabulous” job of managing the health crisis and said the institute wants to do its part to help the state.

“I think that it is important for a registry that we not only sort of find things and publish papers, but one of the things that I think is really important, and unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of data or outcomes yet, but these need to be shared in an effective way with people of West Virginia, with communities, with community healthcare providers,” Hodder said. “Often, the dialogue that comes out of the discussions, I think, really is more revealing and helpful, as well, so that is our intent.”

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