WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A local hospital recently expanded its’ facility to treat immunocompromised COVID-19 patients.
Ascension Via Christi St. Francis opened its monoclonal antibody infusion therapy facility in April. When the treatment center opened, staff were only able to treat three patients at a time.
“It would take us about 15 to 16 hours to do 15 patients,” said Amy Charles, manager of Ambulatory and Infusion Services. “Now, we’re doing 16 patients a day, and we’re able to do them in eight hours.”
Monoclonal antibodies work with a patient’s own natural antibodies to find and stop the coronavirus from infecting other cells. Treatment is run through an I.V. drip and only takes 20 minutes, 20 minutes that could keep patients out of the hospital and off a ventilator.
“Preliminary research shows that there is a seventy percent reduction in hospitalization or risk of death for those who are at an increased risk of hospitalization due to risk factors,” Linsey Coster, business operations director at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis said.
Risk factors are any pre-existing health condition that would make someone high-risk for COVID-19. That vulnerable population has the first shot at treatment in the newly expanded facility that opened Friday.
Charles said the hospital has treated more than 200 patients since offering the service in April and less than 10 have been hospitalized.
“We’ve had good success with keeping people out of the hospital to free up our beds for patients that do need them,” Charles said.
“We’re not only potentially shortening the duration of people’s illness and also the severity of their illness but allowing them to be at home and not be in the hospital,” Coster said.
To be eligible for treatment, patients must be immunocompromised and must be within ten days of their first sign of COVID symptoms. A referral is necessary, so, positive patients must reach out to their primary care provider before requesting treatment.