"A chance to be a part of history"

IMage of Pat Johnston for R&I item Pat's story

Pat Johnson joined the nursing profession 40 years ago. She is currently a ward manager on Invicta ward at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital. 

Pat became ill with Coronavirus back in 2020, whilst working at QEQM hospital, during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Pat’s condition deteriorated quickly and before long she was in ITU on a ventilator, fighting for her life.

At that time, there were no proven treatments for Coronavirus. However, the RECOVERY trial was open in EKHUFT which was testing whether various suggested treatments were effective against this new and unknown virus. Pat was identified as eligible and enrolled into the study.

Pat recalls: “I knew nothing about it at the time as I was intubated and sedated, so my husband had to give consent on my behalf. Luckily, he said yes! I was randomised to receive the Dexamethasone treatment and my family tell me that it was after I received this that I seemed to turn the corner”

Indeed, as a result of the RECOVERY trial findings, Dexamethasone was shown to reduce the risk of death in seriously ill patients and soon became standard treatment. This was particularly positive as the treatment was one that was instantly available and affordable worldwide. In the nine months following the discovery, dexamethasone saved an estimated one million lives worldwide.

Pat said: “I am so grateful that I was able to take part in this trial and after I began to recover from the virus, I just wanted to give something back. Anything I could do to help get answers and to increase understanding to help people in the future, I was, and still am, happy to do”.

“I was subsequently contacted about taking part in some other Covid research studies, and was able to take part in a further two. I tried to take part in others too, but either I wasn’t eligible or the study was too far away”

Pat also participated in the GenOMICC study, which aims find the genetic factors that determine outcome in critical illness, including Covid-19, and also the PHOSP-COVID study which aims to identify whether there are longer-term health problems of Covid-19 for those who were hospitalised.

When asked how she found the experience, Pat said: “It was a very positive. The research team were professional, polite, informative and helpful – they even came out to my home to take the blood test from me so I didn’t have to travel. I felt that taking part was really appreciated”.

Pat went on to say: “Health research is so important. Its not just about science and there is always something to learn, including finding out what doesn’t work. Good quality research produces important evidence and helps to educate people.”

“To anyone considering taking part in research, I would say that this is a chance for them to be part of history and to answer important questions to help ensure the care we give is evidence-based. It also provides the opportunity to do something constructive and play a small part in making a difference to people’s lives”.

“I am very proud to have such a great research team in the Trust, which is continuing to develop and helping to put EKHUFT on the map. It is great to be part of it!”

For further information about the studies Pat took part in, please visit: