Physician urges area residents to “hold on a little longer and remain vigilant”
Within five days of Indiana-based Eli Lily receiving emergency approval for its monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) was delivering the intravenous treatment to patients.
The logistics of that alone were a herculean feat, according to Wayne Perry, MD. “Within five business days of the FDA’s approval. We got the product, set up protocols, established a location that would eliminate exposure to others,” said Dr. Perry. “It was a tremendous effort on the part of our staff and leadership, working in conjunction with pharmacy, maintenance, supply services, the infusion center, and nurses.”
Among the accomplishments in those five days was the establishment of a Satellite Infusion Center for the treatment, said Nikki Reed, manager of Cancer Care and Infusion Services. “Patients are escorted into the Center through a designated entrance to ensure patient safety and rooms are thoroughly disinfected after each session,” she explained. “We’re excited to be able to offer this innovative service to our community, and I am proud of our DCMH team’s collaboration to bring this to Decatur County.”
Since receiving its allocation of the antibody therapy four weeks ago, DCMH has administered approximately 15 doses per week to COVID-positive patients with mild to moderate symptoms over the age of 65 or over the age of 12 who are considered high risk by specific eligibility criteria like obesity, chronic kidney disease, or diabetes. Eight DCMH staff members rotate their Infusion Center duties. Dr. Perry said post-infusion follow up calls to patients send a very hopeful message. “Most patients within 24 hours are feeling much better,” he said. “Some may experience fatigue or low-grade fever, but that may be due to the fact they are COVID-positive.” The antibody treatment is not for those admitted to the hospital or receiving oxygen support.
Despite the treatment’s successes, Dr. Perry adamantly reminds Decatur County and surrounding area residents to remain vigilant in their COVID-19 prevention measures like mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing. “This is not a pass card for people to go out and engage in high-risk activities or stop wearing masks and social distancing,” he said. “There are a very limited number of doses in light of the 100,000 people in the United States who are diagnosed daily.”
In addition to the Eli Lilly antibody treatment, DCMH is also receiving a polyclonal antibody treatment from Regeneron – the treatment received by President Donald Trump during his bout with COVID-19. Both treatments require the same protocols and are being administered through the DCMH Satellite Infusion Center.
“We know you are tired of the pandemic, of not seeing friends and loved ones. But I implore you to try to hold on a little longer, especially so that those most at risk can get the vaccine,” said Dr. Perry. “Postponing your holiday gatherings until the spring or summer of 2021 is going to be a prudent step toward minimizing the spread of this deadly virus.”