Barbara Davis of Florence receives the Bamlanivimab infusion treatment for COVID-19 at McLeod Regional Medical Center.
McLeod Health is pleased to announce it has expanded access to the monoclonal antibody therapy Bamlanivimab as an outpatient infusion treatment for patients at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.
Bamlanivimab is a new investigational medicine used for the treatment of COVID-19 in non-hospitalized adults with mild to moderate symptoms and who are at high risk of needing hospitalization for severe COVID-19. High risk patients include those who meet any of the following: age 65 or older, ages 55 to 64 or older with hypertension, heart disease, or respiratory disease, or patients 18 and older who have a BMI of 35 or more, diabetes, hypertension, or immunosuppressive disease. The greatest benefit to the treatment is within five days of COVID-19 symptom onset. If it has been more than 10 days since symptoms began patients are ineligible for the treatment.
McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence began treating patients with Bamlanivimab on November 24, 2020. The treatment is now available at McLeod Health Clarendon in Manning, McLeod Health Seacoast in Little River, McLeod Health Carolina Forest in Myrtle Beach and McLeod Health Loris.
The one-time intravenous therapy which received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA on November 9, 2020, is proving effective at keeping high-risk patients from being hospitalized for the virus. Within McLeod Health, more than 550 patients have received the Bamlanivimab infusion treatment.
“The results we have seen in patients after receiving the Bamlanivimab infusion are very promising and indicative of the need for this patient population to consider receiving this treatment,” said Dr. Dale Lusk, Corporate Chief Medical Office for McLeod Health. “We encourage patients newly diagnosed with COVID-19 who are 65 and older or at high risk for developing severe symptoms that may require hospitalization to contact their primary care physician to be referred for treatment.”
Dr. Caetie Rabon, Chief Medical Officer for McLeod Health Clarendon, said, “As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise, it is encouraging to be able to offer Bamlanivimab infusion therapy. This is one more tool in our armamentarium that we can turn to as we strive to help high-risk patients overcome and even prevent serious illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19.
“Timing of receiving the infusion is important, because even though patients are eligible for treatment within 10 days of onset of COVID-19 symptoms, Bamlanivimab appears to be more effective early in the course of the disease,” explained Dr. Rabon. “While everyone responds differently, the majority of patients have shown improvements in their breathing and fever and muscle aches have resolved after receiving treatment. One patient even labeled it ‘miracle in a bag.’ While there can be side effects, the benefit of receiving this treatment far outweighs the risk and we have seen a ten percent decrease in hospitalization.”
Heather West, BSN, RN, Nursing Director of the unit offering the infusion treatments at McLeod Regional Medical Center, stated that her team has provided the treatment to more than 300 patients since the program began at McLeod Regional in November. “We have also expanded from treating four patients at one time when we started to now infusing 24 patients a day at McLeod Regional. Additionally, we are seeing the greatest improvement in patients who are coming early and not waiting until they feel very sick.”
Dr. Lusk and Dr. Rabon add, “The best tool in the fight against COVID-19 is prevention, and so we continue to encourage everyone to wear a mask, practice social distancing, stay home when sick, observe good hand hygiene, and take other measures that will limit the spread of this virus including getting the COVID-19 vaccine.”
McLeod Health is screening patients 55 and older who have been tested at a McLeod Health Specimen Collection Unit or Emergency Department and are positive for COVID-19 for possible treatment and contacting these patients with information about the therapy. The medication is a 1 hour IV infusion, followed by a 1 hour monitoring period. An appointment lasts roughly 3 hours and the known side effects are rare.
Healthcare providers can refer patients for the Bamlanivimab infusion treatment by visiting https://www.mcleodhealth.org/coronavirus/forms/infusion-forms/ or clicking on the COVID Patient Infusion Referral Form button on the homepage of mcleodhealth.org. If you are a patient seeking advice on treatment, please contact your primary care provider for further information about monoclonal antibody infusion therapy for COVID-19.