Sleepy Eye Medical Center (SEMC) is excited to offer COVID-19 antibody therapy to patients who qualify.
The therapy, known as Monoclonal Antibody Treatment, is for people who have tested positive for COVID-19, have mild to moderate symptoms and are at high risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
What It Is
Antibodies are proteins that people’s bodies make to fight viruses, such as the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies made in a laboratory act a lot like natural antibodies to limit the amount of virus in your body. These are called monoclonal antibodies. Antibodies must be administered through a vein by intravenous (IV) infusion.
In late November 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to permit the emergency use of these treatments after studies suggested that they reduced the risk of hospitalization among people at elevated risk.
“We have safely administered the therapy to several patients already,” said Susan Ahlness, APRN, BC, SEMC. “Our patients have been receptive to the antibody infusions, and we are excited to have another tool at our disposal to help those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 achieve better outcomes.”
Who is Eligible
Patients must meet one or more of the following criteria to qualify:
- Over age 65
- Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 35
- Chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage IV or greater (eGFR < 30)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Over age 55, plus one of the following: chronic respiratory disease or cardiovascular disease
In addition, a provider referral is required. SEMC accepts internal referrals as well as those made by outside providers.
Offering Treatment in a Safe, Efficient Manner
Interest in offering COVID-19 antibody therapy has varied amongst healthcare facilities because of the difficulties associated with administering it. First, people eligible for the treatment have active infections, which means staff must treat patients without exposing others. Each infusion also takes approximately an hour, followed by an hour of observation – a timely process requiring ample staff time in the midst of a pandemic surge. In addition, there is a precise window for antibody treatment, which demands fast testing turn around.
“Because SEMC offers the rapid COVID-19 test, we are able to identify positive tests in an efficient manner. In turn, we can deliver timely antibody therapy – within the recommended 10 days of symptom onset for patients who qualify,” said Lori Neidecker, RN, Infection Preventionist, SEMC.
Another hurdle to treatment can be transportation, especially for residents living in long-term care settings. SEMC has adopted processes to ensure continuity of care for these patients.
“We are excited to partner with area nursing homes and assisted living facilities in an effort to ensure efficient, patient-centered care for residents in need,” said Neidecker. “Our trained nurses will bring treatment to residents within these facilities, which removes the hurdle that transportation can be.”
SEMC offers therapy for all other patients in the hospital setting, where health care providers have immediate access to medications to treat any reactions and where emergency medical systems are available, if needed.
According to SEMC, an adequate supply of treatment is currently available. However, this could change, depending on demand across the region and state.
For further information about Monoclonal Antibody Treatment, visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s website or SEMC’s Antibody Therapy webpage. To schedule an appointment with an SEMC provider to determine if antibody therapy is right for you, call 507-794-3691. Interested long-term care or assisted living facilities should call 507-794-3691 for additional program information.