KALISPELL — Healthcare professionals at Logan Health treated their first COVID-19 positive patient with monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment on November 20, 2020.
Logan Health was one of the first hospitals in the country to treat COVID-19 patients with monoclonal antibodies thanks to an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“It’s been a benefit of keeping people out of the hospital, and it’s really nice to be able to offer something to people who fall into this risk category, who are definitely at high risk of being hospitalized,” Logan Health Nursing Supervisor of Infusion and vascular access Jesse Arneson told MTN News.
Limiting COVID-19-related hospitalizations was the goal when three health care professionals from Logan Health came together in the fall of 2020 to bring mAb treatments to the Flathead.
Jesse Arneson discusses monoclonal antibody treatment
“Antibody treatments are designed to help your immune system a little bit to attack this infection. These specific antibodies are designed to stick to the spikes of the virus, so they kind of neutralize its effect,” Arneson said. .
Healthcare professionals Arneson, Leah Scaramuzzo and Melissa Edmister studied the clinical trial for guidance, understanding how the drug works and assessing risks before deciding to bring monoclonal antibody treatments to Logan Health.
“I advocated for the space and for it to happen, and Jesse lined up the nurses, Leah was the one who collected the data so we could have the conversations and move forward together,” Logan Health Clinical Manager for Oncology and Infusion Melissa Edmister explained.
Logan Health currently offers mAb treatment via infusion, in which patients receive four consecutive injections in the arm or abdomen.
Melissa Edmister discusses monoclonal antibody treatment
Scaramuzzo said they have spent countless hours talking directly with drug companies about how to safely treat patients with antibodies.
“We had multiple conversations with them back and forth about the best method of administration, safe route of administration, because we wanted to make sure our patients were safe when we were administering the drug, and our team was comfortable and competent to do this, added Scaramuzzo.
Monoclonal antibody treatments are designed to treat COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms, regardless of vaccination status, within days of the onset of symptoms. Patients must meet the guidelines for emergency authorizations to receive treatment and have a referral from a physician.
“And between the supplier and the patient, the decision is made about the risks versus benefits and the patient then qualifies for the actual administration of the medication,” Scaramuzzo said.
Leah Scaramuzzo Discusses Monoclonal Antibody Treatment
Edmister said the small team of health professionals responsible for the treatment has now treated nearly 2,000 patients. She noted that some patients begin to feel better within days, others within hours.
“A lot of people start to feel better gradually the next day and just about the next morning they feel a lot better, but literally I’ve seen people feel better within an hour. It’s amazing when it starts like that,” added Edmister .
Edmister said they now treat up to 25 patients a day with monoclonal antibodies, working up to 16 hours a day to provide the best possible care for their patients.
“Part of what we say is that patients come first and patients are the center of what we do and so we’ll take care of the patient first and make sure they get what they need and then we’ll stay later, funnily enough, I call it volunteer time and then go do our other work because I run some programs and the same with Leah and Jesse, so patients come first and then we squeeze everything around it.” Logan Health Clinical Manager for Oncology and Infusion Melissa Edmister.
Logan Health reminds Flathead residents that vaccination is still the best strategy to prevent COVID-19 infection and serious illness.