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KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – The University of Kansas Medical Center announced Monday that it will be participating in a nationwide clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in preventing COVID-19 infection in exposed healthcare workers. KU Medical Center is one of 60 such sites across the nation that will be participating in this clinical trial, led by the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

The trial, the Healthcare Worker Exposure Response and Outcomes of Hydroxychloroquine (HERO HCQ), will launch April 22. It is accompanied by a registry that will create a community of healthcare workers who have expressed interest in contributing to the scientific community’s understanding of the impact of COVID-19.

“At this point in the pandemic, hospitals are reporting that 20 percent of U.S. healthcare workers are becoming infected with COVID-19. When that happens, one in five must go into quarantine and cannot take care of patients,” said Mario Castro, M.D., MPH, principal investigator for the KU Medical Center site of the study. “This study is critical for safeguarding the personal health of these workers and for protecting the healthcare workforce at this critical time. Our hope is that this drug will decrease the risk of exposed workers developing an active COVID-19 infection.”

KU Medical Center aims to recruit 500 participants to the study while also promoting the registry, which will enroll healthcare workers from throughout the United States, at heroesresearch.org. The HERO Registry is open to all healthcare workers in the United States, including nurses, therapists, physicians, emergency responders, food service workers and environmental service workers — anyone who works in a setting where people receive healthcare and are exposed to COVID-19.

The plan is to use the registry to locate healthcare workers for the current drug trial, but the registry also will allow healthcare workers to indicate their willingness to participate in future clinical trials regarding COVID-19.

“Although there has been discussion about hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a potential prevention method for COVID-19, we are lacking the data on safety and efficacy of this therapy,” said Adrian Hernandez, M.D., a Duke professor of cardiology and the administrative principal investigator of the nationwide trial. “By conducting this study with healthcare workers, we are working directly with those who understand the importance of quickly getting answers into the hands of those on the front line.”

Health care workers interested in participating in the hydroxychloroquine clinical trial at KU Medical Center may contact Shelby Almo at salmo@kumc.edu or 913-574-3006, and they also must register at heroesresearch.org. Health care workers interested in learning more or in participating in the registry should visit the website at heroesresearch.org.

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