The following information is from Baton Rouge General
Baton Rouge General (BRG) will open a Specialty Infusion Center later this week to administer monoclonal antibodies to COVID-19 patients who fit the criteria. Located in the Center for Health on BRG’s Bluebonnet campus, the center’s 15 infusion bays will allow for up to 80 infusions per day. Staffing will be provided with help from the Louisiana Department of Health.
“Early data show that monoclonal antibodies can successfully reduce COVID-19 hospitalizations rates and emergency department visits,” said Dr. Louis Minsky, chief of staff at Baton Rouge General. “As our local hospitals are bursting at the seams with COVID-19 patients, many requiring critical care, the hope is to relieve some of that pressure.”
After entering the body, monoclonal antibodies look for and attach to the spike protein that sticks out of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Once attached to the spike protein, they can block the virus’s ability to enter cells — and slow down the infection. Treatments take between 30 to 50 minutes and require observation of up to an hour afterwards.
In 2020, the Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization allowing monoclonal antibodies as a treatment option for COVID-19. The FDA authorized several different monoclonal antibodies, but the one being administered at BRG is REGEN-COV, which is a combination of the drugs casirivimab and imdevimab.
A physician referral is required to receive the monoclonal antibody treatment. To be eligible, you must have tested positive for COVID-19, have had symptoms for 10 days or less, and one of the following:
- 65 years old or older
- Have a BMI of more than 25 kg/m2, or if age 12-17, have BMI above the 85th percentile for their age and gender based on CDC growth charts
- Currently Pregnant
- Have a medical condition, including:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Cardiovascular disease (including congenital heart disease, hypertension)
- Down syndrome
- Liver disease
- Chronic lung disease
- Sickle cell disease
- Immunosuppressive disease or immunosuppressive treatment
- Current or former smoker
- History of stroke or cerebrovascular disease
- Current or history of substance abuse
- Neurodevelopmental disorders or other conditions that confer medical complexity
- Have a medical-related technological dependence (e.g., tracheostomy, gastrostomy)
When demand was at its highest for vaccines, the infusion center space was used to ramp up vaccine distribution, seeing about 2,500 per week at its busiest. As demand slowed, vaccine appointments were moved to smaller clinics, and the large space is now being repurposed to fill the growing need for monoclonal antibody infusions.
As part of the same agreement with LDH, BRG will get additional staffing assistance – including nurses and respiratory therapists – to help in the Emergency Department and COVID ICU.
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