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New therapy to treat COVID-19 patients explained

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The monoclonal antibody treatment is here and in use in Kansas.

“To try this infusion, you have to talk to a doctor. Then, we get the referral,” said Amy Charles with the monoclonal antibody clinic.

Charles works for the clinic at the St. Joseph campus with Ascension Via Christi where they do infusion treatments.

“It’s just showing a lot of promise. We are busy,” said Charles.

Charles said they have infused about 150 patients with the monoclonal antibody treatment called Bamlanivimab or BAM for short. Hutchinson hospital through the Hutch Clinic is also using the treatment.

Monoclonal antibodies are used because some doctors believe it helps cut back on the severity of symptoms for COVID-19 positive patients.

So how do you get the infusion if you want to give it a try?

“Talk to your doctor and ask for it. They will contact us,” said Charles. “A physician then reaches out to our infectious disease team to go through inclusion/exclusion criteria, make sure that they meet those before the patient is ever even scheduled.”

Ascension Via Christi, through the St. Joseph location, has ramped up capacity at the clinic. While there is not yet a large study group nationally to back the efficacy of the therapy, there is anecdotal evidence it may keep people out of the hospital who have contracted COVID-19.

“It is an emergency use authorization drug. That’s because they haven’t completed all the studies with FDA,” said Charles. “But they were seeing such positive results with it that they needed to get it out.”

Charles says they believe it helps cut back on the severity of symptoms of COVID positive patients. The monoclonal antibodies are not considered a vaccine.

You can’t show up at the hospital and ask for it. You can ask your doctor to give it a try at either the Hutch Clinic or Ascension Via Christi.

It is infused in the arm and the process takes about an hour.

“We keep people an extra hour after the process to make sure there are no reactions to the medication,” said Charles.

She also said so far they have not seen any reactions to the infusions.

If your doctor contacts Ascension Via Christi for the treatment in Wichita, you could get an appointment. Those appointments happen at the St. Joseph campus. The campus is set for COVID-19 positives to get treatment.

“So we have an entrance and hallway dedicated to only these patients,” says Charles. “They come in and park at the designated spots for them. They call in, and we come get them.”

Charles says the clinic is now infusing patients five days a week. The unit has strict safety protocols to follow since it involves treating COVID-19 positive patients.

“Operationally, it’s tough. There are hospitals that have received drugs that are not able to operationalize,” said Charles. “But we are doing it. We are safe. If you think you want this, then talk to your doctor.”

The treatment is not for those on oxygen or someone already hospitalized and being treated for COVID-19. Right now, patients need to be at least 65 and testing positive for COVID-19 or near that age with health risks and complications.

“Talk to your doctor,” said Charles. “But we are doing this and we think we are making a difference.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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