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Same REACH for group
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MONROE - The Monroe Medical Foundation may have changed its name this month to REACH, but its purview is the same as it's always been, said its executive director.

Kim Hedeman, executive director of REACH - the Research and Education Association of Clinical Health - said the name change was primarily to clear up confusion between the former Monroe Medical Foundation and the Monroe Clinic Foundation.

Although the two foundations work closely together, Hedeman said, they are not related.

REACH works with the Clinic to set up clinical studies and research with the consent of patients at the Clinic.

"A lot of people don't realize we're here," Hedeman said. "People hear the words "research facility' and they think of something bigger."

Hedeman said that, although medical studies are less frequent than in the past due to the merging of prominent pharmaceutical companies, REACH generally runs between five to 10 trials a year.

Currently, REACH is pursuing five medical trials, largely involving urology. The newest trial is a multi-year study of the bladder cancer treatment EOquin, produced by Spectrum Pharmaceuticals.

Hedeman said REACH specializes in urology and women's health - sterilization is available at REACH but not at the Catholic Monroe Clinic - but can conduct trials in other fields, such as dermatology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology and otolaryngology.

All trials are undertaken in cooperation with pharmaceutical companies and physicians at the Monroe Clinic, who recommend fields of study and approach patients with the opportunity to become a potential subject.

"People hear "drug trial' and think "oh no, I'm going to turn purple,'" Hedeman said. "But our trials are usually Phases 3 or 4."

Earlier phases of clinical research monitor a drug's short-term effects or effective dose ranges, Hedeman said. Later phases - including Phases 3 and 4 - determine the drug's effectiveness after its safety has already been determined.

Since being founded in 1984, the foundation has run scores of trials and given out more than $50,000 in scholarships to students interested in working in the medical industry.

REACH's previous director, Jean Meyers, retired last year after 11 years at the foundation. Currently, Hedeman works alone with Michelle Borgmann, REACH's clinical research coordinator.

Hedeman said REACH is funded primarily through grants from pharmaceutical companies, but donations are welcome. The foundation is holding a silent auction throughout this week to benefit REACH.

"What we're doing is awesome," Hedeman said. "Every drug you've ever taken started as a trial."