RAPID CITY, S.D. — Monument Health recently began offering a new type of infusion treatment for COVID-19 patients.
The first dose of the antibody medication was administered just over two-and-a-half weeks ago to a patient at Monument Health – and more than a dozen patients have received this treatment since then. The treatment has been well-tolerated.
The medication in development is known as monoclonal antibodies, which are basically lab-created proteins designed to help neutralize the virus.
Brandi Tackett, Director of Clinical Innovations and Rapid City Hospital Infusion Therapy, says, “This is a great step forward in the treatment of COVID; it is very early in the study of these medications, so we do have to be cautious and see what comes out of their studies and additional use of them.”
The FDA advised health care systems to administer the infusions, so Monument has given out antibody medications from two different pharmaceutical companies.
The treatment is suited for outpatients who are early in the course of their disease and have mild to moderate symptoms, but are at high risk for serious complications from COVID-19.
An antibody is something that will neutralize the virus and keep it from spreading into more cells.
“Early on in the pandemic as patients recovered from the virus on their own, pharmaceutical manufacturers were able to study that patients antibody response and then take it to a lab and make a protein that they could mass produce,” Tackett added. “They will basically help the patient have antibodies to overcome and neutralize the virus.”
The hope is that patients can get better faster and not progress to worse symptoms that require hospitalization.
Melita Lemer, RN at Monument Health, says, “If we can catch it early on – these patients come to us fairly soon after they are diagnosed – we can get the infusion, and hopefully that is stopping the progression and hospitalization in COVID patients.”
The medication is designed to be given as a single infusion treatment. Patients spend about two-and-a-half hours at an infusion center, which is separated from other patients.
Monument Health is offering the infusions in Rapid City and preparing to offer in other locations in Western South Dakota.
Patients are encouraged to visit with their physician if COVID positive to see if they meet the criteria to receive it.