BOISE, Idaho — When COVID-19 first appeared, not much was known about the virus or how to effectively respond to it.
Because of this, a team of 130 medical librarians from around the world joined together to research and find answers to questions related to COVID-19. A medical librarian is a healthcare specialist that assists medical personnel in finding health information best suited to the individual's needs.
One of those medical librarians is here in Idaho.
“The questions we get are across the span of COVID-19; they might deal with infection prevention or transmission,” said St. Luke’s medical librarian Sara Loree.
She is also the co-director of the Librarian Reserve Corp. The Librarian Reserve Corp consists of medical librarians from all places, including Canada, Australia, Ethiopia, the United States and the United Kingdom.
For the past several months, it has been Loree's job to come up with a system for identifying the best publications that provide the most important evidence and articles on topics surrounding COVID-19.
“Our local medical providers use that information to inform how they treat patients in our hospital systems," Loree said. "So by working on the global level to try and organize that information and get it in the hands of public health experts, physicians, medical providers, then they can use that information to better understand what treatments might be effective."
This research is something medical professionals appreciate, according to Loree.
“The work that she's doing is very meaningful to us, both in terms of being up [to date] on the latest, but also having the most meaningful data to inform clinical decision making and then being able to put together a playbook that’s disseminated across the health system,” said St. Luke’s Hospitalist Physician Assistant Nate Thompson.
Currently, there are 80 active volunteers in the Librarian Reserve Corp who have contributed more than 1300 hours of their time to this research since April.
“Information that demonstrates what works and what doesn’t is critical," said Tulane University's Dr. Lina Moses. "So identifying that rapidly so we can turn it around in practice and how we change and how we respond to this is really critical and that's essentially what the Librarian Reserve Corp is doing for us."
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Despite many states reopening like Idaho, Loree and the rest of the medical librarians remain busy.
“Librarians are natural collaborators I think, and love to share information and that's our goal is to get the information that our community and patrons need,” Loree said.
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