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Ochsner Lafayette General, HHS partner to expand access to antibody therapy to COVID patients

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Posted at 9:49 AM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 10:49:36-04

Ochsner Lafayette General, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Louisiana Department of Health, announced that beginning September 8 it will begin providing COVID-19 monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment at a mobile infusion unit to further expand access beyond its four existing infusion locations. For people who are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness and have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, this promising mAb treatment has been shown to help prevent progression of the disease that might otherwise require hospitalization, according to a release by Ochsner Lafayette General.

In response to the growing COVID case rates and the rapid spread of the Delta variant, Ochsner Lafayette General will expand access to the mAb infusion for eligible patients at a 10-chair mobile unit adjacent to Ochsner Lafayette General Orthopedic Hospital. With the launch of the mobile unit, Ochsner Lafayette General will eventually be able to treat up to 500 additional patients per week at this site. Beginning September 8, treatment will be available at the mobile unit Monday through Friday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Once fully staffed, infusions will be available seven days a week between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., the release states. Ochsner Lafayette General is already providing mAb therapy at four locations— Ochsner University Hospital & Clinics, Ochsner Acadia General Hospital, Ochsner Abrom Kaplan Memorial Hospital, and Ochsner St. Martin Hospital. To confirm eligibility for the treatment, receive a referral, and book an appointment, patients should contact 1-833-TREAT-COVID (1-833-873-2826).

If administered within 10 days of onset of COVID-19 symptoms, the one-time therapy, made up of synthetic proteins designed to mimic the body’s own immune response, is highly effective in neutralizing the virus and preventing symptoms from worsening, according to Ochsner Lafayette General. The treatment is administered through intravenous infusion.

“Given the surge in COVID-19 cases in our area, we are especially pleased to be offering expanded access to mAbs to better serve high-risk members of our community. This innovative mobile solution will ensure that we can continue to meet growing demand for treatment while keeping our most vulnerable citizens out of the hospital. While we are honored to partner with federal and state officials to continue our fight against COVID-19, we remind everyone that their greatest weapon to defend the deadly virus is to get vaccinated,” said Ochsner Lafayette General Chief Medical Officer Amanda Logue, MD.

“Louisiana is unfortunately experiencing COVID-19 case and hospitalization numbers that exceed any other time during the pandemic. With insufficient vaccination rates across the state, our people are most vulnerable to the highly transmissible Delta variant.” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, State Health Officer at the Louisiana Department of Health. “We are proud to support Ochsner Lafayette General in expanding access to this life-saving treatment and working with them to ensure our underserved residents know both where and how to get treated if they contract COVID-19.”

On March 17, 2021, HHS announced it was investing $150 million to increase access to mAb therapy for high-risk patients in underserved and disadvantaged communities across the country, according to the release. With support from KPMG LLP, HHS is developing new prototype models for expanding access to mAb treatment and leveraging an existing network of health care partners to provide the therapy for underserved and disadvantaged populations.

The therapy is the first COVID-19 treatment granted emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for outpatient use. A Phase 3 clinical trial showed that the antibody therapy reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 70% in patients who received the drug intravenously compared to those who received a placebo.

To be eligible for mAb treatment, patients must meet the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) definition of “high risk.” Following a positive COVID-19 test result, a telemedicine visit will be conducted for evaluation and qualification for therapy. Patients are monitored onsite for an hour after completion of the infusion treatment. Treatment is offered regardless of immigration status, health insurance coverage, or ability to pay.

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