COVID-19 Treatment

COVID-19 Treatment

As the pandemic continues, Memorial Health Care Systems and health care organizations across the nation have begun administering monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19. “So far, this has been a very promising treatment for patients early in their diagnoses. This represents an exciting new tool your physician has in the war against the Coronavirus,” said Robert Wergin, MD at Memorial Health Care Systems.

This medication provides outpatient treatment for specific high-risk COVID-19 positive patients. The procedure involves a one-time intravenous infusion and is not authorized for patients who are already hospitalized or who require additional oxygen therapy due to COVID-19.

Roger Reamer, Chief Executive Officer of Memorial Health Care Systems said, “For the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, these monoclonal antibody treatment options give our staff the ability to treat COVID-19 positive patients who have not yet progressed to the point where they need emergency care or inpatient hospitalization. This is extremely promising and gives hope to all of us to have an option to help treat COVID-19.”

Patients must meet certain criteria (set by the FDA through the emergency use authorization) to be eligible to receive the drug. This includes a positive test for COVID-19 with symptom onset within the last 10 days AND a high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

High risk is defined as patients who meet at least one of the following criteria:

• Have a body mass index (BMI) ≥35

• Have chronic kidney disease

• Have diabetes

• Have immunosuppressive disease

• Are currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment

• Are ≥65 years of age

• Are ≥55 years of age AND have one or more of the following:

– cardiovascular disease,

– hypertension,

– chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/ other chronic respiratory disease.

• Are 12–17 years of age AND have one or more of the following:

– BMI ≥85th percentile for their age and gender-based on CDC growth charts, https://www.cdc.gov/growthcharts/ clinical_charts.htm,

– sickle cell disease,

– congenital or acquired heart disease,

– neurodevelopmental disorders, for example, cerebral palsy,

– a medical-related technological dependence, for example, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, or positive pressure ventilation (not related to COVID-19),

– asthma, reactive airway, or other chronic respiratory disease that requires daily medication for control.

The number of doses allocated to Memorial Health Care Systems has been and continues to be limited. Other hospitals across Nebraska are also utilizing a limited supply of this treatment option with promising results. In addition to limited supplies, the COVID-19 positive patient’s primary care provider will make the final determination and referral for the drug.

The medication itself is being provided to Memorial Health Care Systems and organizations across the nation at no charge through Operation Warp Speed. Patients are not charged for the medication itself.

Memorial Health Care Systems had an opportunity to utilize the medication in treating residents from a long-term care facility in Seward. “Many individuals across MHCS leadership were instrumental in quickly organizing a protocol and workflow to administer the new treatment efficiently and to those truly at risk for hospitalization due to COVID-19, Dr. Wergin said. He continued, “Because of MHCS’ quick and efficient response, no patients that received the new treatment required hospitalization due to COVID-19. The pandemic has certainly challenged all of us to be creative and flexible in how we partner with senior living, long-term care and to continue to provide care to all our friends and neighbors. It was our privilege to be able to help them in this way,” Dr. Wergin added.

Patients that have tested positive for COVID-19 and have further questions regarding eligibility for the medication can call the Seward Family Medical Center at 402-643-4800 Monday–Friday from 8 a.m.–4 p.m.

"We are seeing great progress in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19. While we have outpatient and inpatient therapies avaialbe and a vaccine being distributed to the phase 1a groups, our fight against this pandemic is not over. We will continue to ask our community members to follow social distancing guidelines, wear masks, wash hands frequently, and avoid crowds." urges Mallory Gibreal, Director of Community Relations.