Children's Hospital Colorado

Coronavirus Research and Innovation

When the novel coronavirus was identified and began to rapidly spread, our pediatric experts were closely watching the situation and devising a response. Experts from various departments within Children’s Hospital Colorado quickly came together during the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic to respond.

Collaboration between experts in our Infectious Disease Program and several other teams within Children’s Colorado led to the rapid implementation of coronavirus testing. In fact, we were the first hospital system in Colorado – and one of the first in the nation – to offer coronavirus testing. Foresight and quick action from experts within the Blood Donor Center led to the evaluation and use of convalescent plasma as a promising potential treatment for COVID-19.

In response to stay-at-home orders, our Telehealth Department made swift adjustments in the use of telemedicine to enable continuity of high-quality care for our pediatric patients.

Researcher working with convalescent plasma
Research article

Convalescent plasma, taken from donors who have recovered from COVID-19, could help people who are still sick. Our Blood Donor Center was the first in the state to collect it.

Researcher pipetting into a small tube.
Research article

Learn how Children’s Hospital Colorado quickly developed a testing process for the new coronavirus.

Telehealth worker
Research article

Children’s Hospital Colorado swiftly made telehealth adjustments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn how they did it.

Profile image of Dr. Sam Dominguez
“The idea of ‘What we do today prepares us for tomorrow’ has really carried us through. With no real end in sight, we’re grateful to have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time.”
Sam Dominguez, MD

What our coronavirus response means to patients and the community

The collaborative efforts of experts across our hospital has led to increased access to COVID-19 testing and availability of antibody-rich convalescent plasma for critically ill patients. These efforts have benefited our patients and their families as well as our care team members and adult patients receiving treatment outside our hospital walls.

Children’s Colorado continues to adjust processes as necessary to limit the spread of infection and ensure the safety of team members, patients and the broader community.

In addition, COVID-19 prompted us to quickly ramp up our existing telehealth services within Children’s Colorado, which has led to valuable insights on its use. Our ability to rapidly provide increased access to virtual care across various specialties during the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that telehealth is an effective healthcare delivery method that has become a new standard of care.

As we continue to learn more about COVID-19, we are committed to sharing our knowledge with all healthcare providers by providing resources for healthcare professionals.

We also continue to investigate innovative methods of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through various research efforts.

Coronavirus research

Anschutz Medical Campus COVID-19 Research Consortium

Children's Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado Hospital are collaborating on a new protocol to collect patient electronic health record data and biological samples for analysis. The study is now active at both hospitals, and the first specimens have been collected.

A second collaborative effort is underway to develop a protocol specifically evaluating the risks our own team members face as frontline healthcare providers. The goals are to:

  • Determine the incidence of COVID-19 among healthcare workers
  • Identify risk factors for severe illness
  • Evaluate the humoral and cellular response to SARS-CoV-2
  • Characterize the effects of COVID-19 on healthcare workforce capacity

The results of this study will help us protect our team members and guide operational planning into the future. This collaborative approach to understand the clinical characteristics of COVID-19 disease in pediatric and adult populations, as well as the underlying characteristics of patients and their treatment responses, will help us comprehend why children seem better protected from COVID-19. Children are usually one of our most vulnerable populations to viral respiratory infections.

HEROS study

The goal of the HEROS (Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2) study is to learn more about the number of people who may have the coronavirus without knowing it, particularly children. The study will also help us learn how the virus spreads from person to person and the nasal response to the coronavirus. Sponsored by the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the HEROS study is considered mission critical. Andrew Liu, MD, pediatric pulmonologist and Glenn Furuta, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist will lead our participation as one of 11 study sites. National Jewish Hospital is the lead lab for the study.

Treating COVID-19 lymphatic clots and airway plugs

Patients with severe COVID-19 have small clots in their blood vessels and fibrin plugs in their airways. Through work with the Airway Research Center, Livia Veress, MD, has shown in animal models that using a clot-busting drug (alteplase) can treat the airway plugs that develop after sulfur mustard gas exposure. Dr. Veress and Deborah Liptzin, MD, have also used alteplase to treat children with plastic bronchitis (small lymphatic clots in the airways). They are developing protocols to treat patients with severe COVID-19 disease with alteplase both in the lungs and intravenously. They are also providing guidance to adult and pediatric providers throughout the country on how to use these drugs.

Airway Inflammation, Resilience and the Environment (AIRE) Research Program updates

Children's Colorado is the clinical performance site for the NHLBI-sponsored program project grant “Defining Molecular Phenotypes of Exacerbation Prone Asthmatics” and is now COMIRB-approved to convert to tele-research and add COVID-19 surveillance. We have long been interested in the determinants of airway inflammation versus resilience to common cold viruses. Molecular phenotyping and translational research can lead us to new therapies and prevention for severe respiratory viral illness, asthma exacerbations and perhaps the common cold.

Navajo Nation Community Asthma Program Research

COVID-19 surveillance has been added to our current NHLBI-sponsored grant focused on asthma management with a cohort of children from the Navajo Nation and their families. The prevalence of asthma in children from the Navajo Nation is nearly 20%, which is double the U.S. prevalence. National Jewish Hospital is also highly involved in this work, serving as the principal investigator for this study. Our goal is to improve resources to better manage asthma and coronaviruses for the Navajo Nation, where COVID-19 infection and death rates per capita are much higher than surrounding communities.

Stay informed

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