Southeast Georgia Health System Expands Access to COVID-19 Antibody Therapy Treatment
Vaccines are still the very best way to prevent COVID-19 or to avoid severe illness, hospitalization or death from the virus. However, for those individuals who test positive for coronavirus and have underlying health conditions, Southeast Georgia Health System offers an outpatient monoclonal antibody therapy that may help avoid hospitalization or severe illness.
Regeneron monoclonal antibody therapy (Regeneron infusion) helps the immune system stop COVID-19 from spreading in people with mild to moderate symptoms. The antibodies are synthetic proteins that are manufactured in a lab. The therapy is not new, doctors have long used this treatment to deliver drugs or radioactive substances directly to cancer cells. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given monoclonal antibody therapy emergency use authorization for the treatment of COVID-19. According to the FDA, clinical trials showed that COVID-19 patients who received antibody infusions had a significant reduction in hospitalization and death compared to patients who received a placebo.
“We have seen patients with significant comorbidities, meaning those who have two or more diseases or medical conditions, avoid hospitalization and have reduced recovery time as a result of infusion,” says Beth Hall, R.T.(R), manager, Physician Practices, Southeast Georgia Physician Associates. “In some patients, the treatment also helps prevent coronavirus complications.”
There’s an important exception, however. “The treatment is most effective when given as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms and a confirmed positive COVID-19 test result. Ideally, within five days but not more than 10 days after onset,” Hall explains.
The Health System began offering antibody infusions in November 2020 at Glynn Immediate Care Center in Brunswick. Due to the increased number of positive COVID-19 patients, the therapy is now also offered in a dedicated section of the Brunswick Campus hospital.
“Our goal is to treat as many high-risk patients as possible to prevent symptoms from progressing to severe illness and hospitalization,” says Daniel Miller, M.D., emergency medicine physician at Glynn Immediate Care Center and member of the Health System’s medical staff. “We’re doing everything we can to prevent further COVID-19-related deaths in our community.”
Hall adds, “We can currently accommodate up to 30 patients daily, and hope to begin offering treatments seven days a week soon. Treatments take between 20 minutes to an hour, with an hour of observation afterwards.”
Do You Qualify for Treatment?
Monoclonal antibodies are used to treat mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 in non-hospitalized adults and adolescents (12 years and older) with a BMI greater than 25. Vaccinated and unvaccinated high-risk individuals can receive antibody infusions if they meet the following criteria:
- Diagnosed with COVID-19
- At high risk for severe illness, hospitalization or death
- Not currently experiencing severe symptoms
Qualified individuals must be referred by their primary care doctor or evaluated at Glynn Immediate Care Center. The referral must include an infusion order, a copy of the positive COVID-19 test result, and an office note from the physician confirming the patient qualifies for the therapy. The outpatient antibody therapy is only available by appointment; no walk-ins are accepted. There is no cost to the patient for the therapy; however, an administration fee will be filed with the patient’s insurance company.
An Ounce of Prevention
It has been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s certainly true with the COVID-19 vaccine. While there is no cure for COVID-19 currently, the vaccine provides significant protection. And, if someone is vaccinated and becomes infected with the Delta variant, they are less likely to develop serious symptoms or be hospitalized. For a pandemic weary nation, getting more people vaccinated is the surest, quickest way to protect our country, our loved ones, our economy and return to a sense of normalcy.
The Health System offers free COVID-19 vaccinations on the following days:
- Brunswick Campus: Tuesdays, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and Thursdays, 4-6 p.m.
- Camden Campus: Mondays, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
To schedule an appointment, visit sghs.org/covid19-vaccine. The vaccine is also available at Georgia Department of Public Health vaccination clinic locations. To find a clinic, go to gachd.org/vaccine or call 912-230-5506.
For more information about the monoclonal antibody infusion, please call the Health System’s COVID-19 hotline at 912-466-7222.
About Southeast Georgia Health System
Southeast Georgia Health System is a not-for-profit health system comprised of two acute care hospitals, two long term care facilities, three immediate care centers, five family medicine centers and numerous employed physician practices. The Health System has multiple outpatient specialty care centers, including the only CyberKnife® M6 Program in Georgia, and a Cancer Care Center accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. The Health System is part of Coastal Community Health, a regional affiliation between Baptist Health and Southeast Georgia Health System forming a highly integrated hospital network focused on significant initiatives designed to enhance the quality and value of care provided to our contiguous communities. For more information, visit sghs.org.