Urgent funding release for COVID-19 Grants

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Urgent release of funding for Special COVID-19 Grant Round

Research projects analysing the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) rapid response to COVID-19 and subsequent changes to its healthcare practices, will be the focus of a Special Grant Round being funded by the RBWH Foundation.

RBWH Executive Director Research Services, Dr Merrilyn Banks, said some of the changes instituted in just weeks at the start of the pandemic, might otherwise have taken up to a year to implement.

“It was amazing to watch the hospital prepare for this pandemic,” said Dr Banks.

“Our incredible Royal team had to plan compassionate patient care with distancing measures, minimise hospital visitors, acquire sufficient equipment and consumables, and be efficient with staff time.

“We want to research and analyse those changes so the best patient practices can continue to be used into the future.”

RBWH Foundation CEO Simone Garske said it was heartening to know donations to the Foundation’s Coronavirus Action Fund would benefit the people of Queensland for generations to come.

“The RBWH is the largest tertiary hospital in the Southern Hemisphere,” said Ms Garske.

“This round of grants will really help us investigate and assess our response to COVID-19 in all aspects of our health service, and also examine how our service can change and be flexible in an emergency situation.”

Dr Banks said Telehealth, which uses phone and video-conferencing technologies to conduct patient appointments, was one initiative which proved particularly invaluable during the crisis.

“Telehealth consultations have almost tripled since COVID19 and we would like to continue that growth into the future,” said Dr Banks.

“Research would look at whether the care provided to patients is as good as, or even better, and assess the cost-effectiveness for patients and the healthcare system.

“For patients who travel from around the state for appointments, Telehealth may prove to be far cheaper and more convenient.”

Another potential area of investigation was a notable drop in the number of general medical patients.

“The only patients we needed to restrict were elective patients, but our doors always remained open to anyone else who was sick and needed treatment,” said Dr Banks.

“A large percentage of those patients, however, have stayed away.

“We are concerned that they are not seeking the medical care they usually would, and we want to investigate where they are.”

The Special COVID-19 Grant Round will close on May 29, with funds to be allocated by the end of June.

The aim is to fund original and highly innovative research projects that have the potential to:

  • directly affect the care provided to patients, including translational research and new models of care;
  • analyse and inform the response to the pandemic event related to provision of patient care, organisational systems and staff responses.
  • foster collaborations across RBWH departments, and or between RBWH and other facilities and external partners; and
  • support staff development.

“COVID-19 has been an incredible catalyst for the RBWH to undertake rapid response changes that have enabled our health system to be more effective and efficient,” said Dr Banks.