COVID-19 Treatment Proving Effective At Morris Hospital
February 11, 2021, MORRIS, IL – An experimental outpatient treatment is proving effective at Morris Hospital for treating select COVID-positive patients who are at risk for developing severe illness.
Since mid-December, Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers has administered monoclonal antibody infusion therapy to 55 outpatients diagnosed with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 infection who met specific criteria that makes them at higher risk for severe illness.
“The treatment has been very effective in keeping people out of the hospital,” says Dr. John Bolden, infectious disease physician at Morris Hospital, noting that just two of the initial 55 patients who were treated ended up requiring hospitalization. “We’ve treated several patients who were likely heading to severe illness or even hospitalization before they received the infusion. Along with the vaccine, I believe the monoclonal antibody infusion has been a game-changer in the fight against COVID-19.”
Patients are receiving the investigational medicine bamlanivimab, which in November was issued emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients. Bamlanivimab is a neutralizing antibody medicine, containing man-made antibodies that are similar to the antibodies of patients who recovered from COVID-19. Morris Hospital has established a dedicated, negative air pressure treatment area for patients scheduled to receive the infusion therapy, which takes about one-hour to administer.
Eligibility requirements for monoclonal antibody infusion are limited to high-risk individuals which may include having a body mass index of 35 or higher, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, a disease that weakens the immune system, or being age 65 or older. Individuals age 55 or older may also qualify if they have heart disease, high blood pressure or long-term lung disease. In addition, those being considered for monoclonal antibody infusion must be able to be scheduled for infusion as soon as possible after testing positive for COVID-19 and within 10 days of symptom onset. Hospitalized patients and those requiring oxygen therapy are unable to receive the treatment.
Compared to the limited treatment options that were previously available, Dr. Bolden is grateful for having a way to treat high-risk patients with COVID-19 earlier and in less time than ever before.
“Elderly and high-risk patients have really benefitted from the treatment,” Dr. Bolden says. “Their infection improved quicker and they felt better within a few days to one week post infusion.”
Dr. Bolden cautions that allergic reactions are possible during and after the infusion, but so far only six patients have experienced minor post-infusion reactions. Reactions can include anaphylaxis, but the reactions he has seen so far include fever, chills, nausea, headaches, low blood pressure, shortness of breath, itching, throat irritation, rash and dizziness. Consent for treatment is required, as the monoclonal antibody infusion is voluntary.
“I think the monoclonal antibody treatment is going to be here for the long haul,” he adds. “Before this, people could treat their symptoms, quarantine and wish for the best. Now we’re treating earlier and in less time with an infusion of just one hour. It’s another tool in our toolbox for fighting COVID-19.”
At Morris Hospital, monoclonal antibody infusion therapy is limited to eligible COVID positive patients who receive care from a provider on the Morris Hospital Medical Staff. Potential candidates should discuss the benefits of treatment with their provider.
Serving patients at 25 locations, Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers includes the 89-bed Morris Hospital, as well as physician offices in Braidwood, Channahon, Coal City, Dwight, Gardner, Marseilles, Mazon, Minooka, Morris, Newark, Ottawa, Seneca, and Yorkville. Through the services of over 1,700 healthcare professionals, physicians and volunteers, Morris Hospital provides lifesaving cardiac intervention with angioplasty and stents, a radiation therapy center for cancer patients, state-of-the-art intensive care unit, sleep center, and walk-in urgent care at four locations. Morris Hospital is a Level II trauma center, Level II perinatal care provider, and primary stroke center. The hospital is known for its compassionate and personalized approach to healthcare.