PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — For months, area hospitals have been warning us that they are quickly running out of beds due to the pandemic. Starting this Friday, CHI Health will begin giving doses of a treatment that could help curb the tide of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The treatment is an antibody drug called Bamlanivimab that was recently approved for emergency use by the FDA. Those receiving the treatment must have a positive COVID test, a doctor’s referral and fall into the high risk category for hospitalization.
“Their provider ultimately would have the decision in terms of their risk status and then talking through the benefits and risks with the patient," explained CHI Health's Director of Clinical Pharmacy Services David Schmidt.
Patients are given one dose of the antibody treatment, and are said to see improvements in a matter of days. Only three percent of those in the trial who received the drug ended up being hospitalized.
“It certainly is one of the more promising therapies out there right now for patients that are non-hospitalized," Schmidt said. "That’s really the unique place of this med is, it’s our first option to provide patients who are not hospitalized, but are at high risk for hospitalization.”
One obstacle of getting the treatment out to patients is preventing any further spread of the virus.
“It’s presented some operational challenges, because we need to set up separate infusion areas to prevent healthy, non-coronavirus patients to coming into contact with these patients who are coming in for a separate infusion," Schmidt said.
CHI Midlands will act as the infusion site in the Omaha Metro, while Lincoln, Kearney, Council Bluffs, Grand Island and critical access locations will have their own designated areas for the treatment.
CHI has received 383 doses of the treatment that will be distributed at locations in both Nebraska and Iowa. They are expecting to have more doses delivered in the coming weeks.