When Clinical Becomes Personal

 In Clinical Trials

In terms of building interpersonal relationships with patients, travel coordination for clinical trials may sound like it’s a pretty hands-off job. One might assume that our clinical coordinators have little correspondence with trial patients outside of determining necessary logistics. The truth is that in many cases we get to know these patients well, and through those relationships gain so much insight into the patient experience.

I was surprised to receive a call from a trial sponsor requesting assistance with booking a hotel on behalf of a patient who I knew was scheduled to check out of the hospital that day. Out of curiosity I called the trial site for more information. The patient, a one-year-old, had developed an inhibitor and could not be released from the hospital as planned. The baby’s mother was struggling financially, and was looking for help booking a hotel that would provide free breakfast and a shuttle to the hospital, since she did not have any means of transportation and could not bear to leave her child in the hospital to go home, three hours away. The mother was concerned that she did not have a credit card to reserve the hotel up front.

With the trial sponsor’s approval and the help of a very compassionate hotel reservations agent, I was able to reserve the stay without a patient’s credit card for possible incidentals. Knowing that the free continental breakfast would likely be the mother’s only meal of the day, we pulled in the trial site coordinator to help obtain her room key the night before her check-in so that she could sleep with her baby at the hospital and arrive very early in the morning to freshen up and eat.

It seemed as though all of us breathed a collective sigh of relief once we were able to coordinate all of the details. Even though we couldn’t make everything better for this woman dealing with a sick child and extreme financial hardship, it was rewarding to know we did everything possible to make her day just a little bit easier. Sometimes a simple hotel booking turns into a complicated, feel-good story for us in the Clinical Division.

-Marie Hutchinson

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