BOISE – It's been going on quietly for the last decade, medical research and clinical testing at St. Luke's Regional Hospital in Boise. It used to be that medical research, like what's happening at St. Luke's and other hospitals in Idaho, was reserved for hospitals associated with medical schools, but times are changing and Idahoans are benefiting.
There are a lot of us who take medications at one time or another. But before we take them there's a lot of money spent to make sure they're safe, and some of that testing is happening here in Idaho.
The date was July 26, 2010. It's a day Laurel Walker will never forget.
"My third anniversary is this Friday," said Walker.
Walker had a heart attack and drove herself to the emergency department at St. Luke's in Boise.
That led to Dr. David Hinchman fixing her coronary arteries with a stent and now she's part of a clinical study headed up by Hinchman.
"We're doing more cardiovascular research than any other institution in the state to my knowledge," said Hinchman.
He says the research they're doing is critical, not just for him, or for Walker, but for all of us.
"We're studying different drugs, devices, diagnostic testing and when we contribute all that data to even larger databases across the country,” said Hinchman. “We're really pushing forward treatment for cardiovascular disease.”
In 2012, St. Luke's performed 205 studies with 8,297 participants. Hinchman says they've had upwards of 100,000 people participate in studies and drug testing since they began doing research.
"We think it's important to expose our patients in our community to these new agents because we want to know that the benefits really apply to patients who live in Idaho," said Hinchman.
The ultimate goal is FDA approval.
"We know it's going to be helping people in the future with really coming up with advanced therapies sooner than later," said Hinchman.
Walker is participating in a blind study to test a new drug that thins the blood to prevent platelets that tend to clump up and clog coronary arteries.
Even though she doesn't know for sure, she believes she had the real drug and not a placebo, and that it works.
"It absolutely has improved my life. Yes, it has," said Walker. "Whatever medicine I was on improved my heart health pretty substantially because Dr. Hinchman said my arteries looked a lot better.”
According to the American Medical Association, hospitals that participate in clinical studies and research like what's happening at St. Luke's, produce better outcomes for all of us who are hospital patients.