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Antibody infusions help prevent COVID hospitalizations

Staffed hospital beds are becoming more scarce and doctors say they’re working to keep patients...
Staffed hospital beds are becoming more scarce and doctors say they’re working to keep patients away from the hospital.(KSLA)
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 5:32 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Staffed hospital beds are becoming more scarce and doctors say they’re working to keep patients away from the hospital.

“Our hospitals right now are full,” says Dr. Jeffrey Elder, LCMC’s Medical Director for Emergency Management.

One way to do that is to give positive COVID patients who meet certain criteria an outpatient procedure called monoclonal antibody infusion.

“It’s actually an IV that you get, and it’s a fluid substance that they infuse generally over an hour,” says Dr. Robert Hart, Ochsner’s Chief Medical Officer.

Hart says the infusion can help neutralize the virus and the procedure has proven very effective.

“It’s like 0.7% of people that get the infusion end up having to be hospitalized. It’s pretty impressive data,” says Dr. Hart.

“That is available for those that are testing positive who meet certain criteria and do not require hospitalization,” says Dr. Elder.

Elder says the goal is to keep people from getting sicker, but they have to catch it early.

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“Now, there are different grading systems to know who is at most risk. And obviously, because of the sheer numbers of positive cases we’ve had, there’s a grading system of the severity of illness,” says Dr. Hart.

“All the hospitals are doing them, but the problem is you’ve got to have personnel to administer it,” says Dr. Jennifer Avegno

With a staffing shortage of healthcare workers across the state, hospitals are trying to figure out the best way to give the infusions.

“Here in Jefferson, they’re here in the hospital. Not in the Emergency Department, but they’re located in a secondary space,” says Dr. Hart.

Ochsner says it’s created infusion suites in its hospitals where several people can get them at once.

“Actually we just go some help in this week with an additional 12 people to help run some of our infusion suites,” says Dr. Hart.

“We do know that in the right patients, monoclonal antibodies do help in reducing severity of disease. They are certainly not right for everyone, and they alone do not stop the spread. If you’re not infected, you don’t need an antibody infusion,” says Dr. Avegno.

Doctors still say the most effective way to stop the spread is to avoid contracting it. They say the best way to do that is by wearing a mask and getting vaccinated.

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