Hospitals maintain patient care during shutdown

6:35 PM, Oct 4, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Local hospitals are being affected by the government shutdown, but not in the way you might think.

The headlines on several, national websites capture attention:"Shutdown Blocks Kids With Cancer From Clinical Trials," and "Government Shutdown Forces Clinical Trial Patients to Wait."  




Those headlines focused on the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, which is federally funded and staffed by federal employees.

Seventy-five percent of those employees have been furloughed, forcing certain clinical trials at the NIH to be delayed.

So Channel 3 decided to take a closer look.

We sat down with the experts to find out if local patients were at risk.

Here's what those experts told us: "We are not turning away clinical trial patients, thank goodness, thank goodness," says Dr. Suzanne Rivera, associate vice president for research at Case Western Reserve University.

"It has to reflect reality and at some level the title was more intense than the facts in terms of what we're able to do," says Dr. John Letterio, Division Chief, Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.

Locally, our doctors, those at the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth Medical, Case Western, say they are still hard at work, providing care to every patient and everyone currently enrolled in clinical trials.

In a statement from Doctor Letterio: "Sickness never takes a holiday and neither do we. (Media) should know that we, and every other children's hospital and cancer center, still have the capacity to provide care, and enroll patients on trials."

So even though local patients are not at risk, our doctors and our preeminent research institutions like Case Western, are being affected by the government shutdown.

Certain grant proposals that rely on approval from the NIH are now not being reviewed, which means research on new, groundbreaking drugs may be put on hold.

"We have study teams on campus who would like to begin work testing a new drug or a new hypothesis and they won't be able to begin until they hear back about their grants," says Rivera.

But when it comes to your immediate needs as a patient, says Letterio, "the message is: we can still do everything we do today."


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