Health First’s Monoclonal Antibodies Clinic Bolsters COVID-19 Patients’ Recovery

By  //  March 8, 2021

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infusion therapy clinic gives high-risk patients quick, positive results

Like many, Brenda and her husband took every precaution while visiting their grandchildren for Christmas, so when they arrived back home safe and sound they felt relieved. (Health First image)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Like many, Brenda and her husband took every precaution while visiting their grandchildren for Christmas, so when they arrived back home safe and sound they felt relieved.

That’s when they got the phone call. Their youngest grandchild had tested positive for COVID-19 the day after they left.

Brenda, 59, has asthma, and chronic lung disease is known to have worse outcomes with COVID-19. The couple visited one of our Centra Care walk-in clinics for a test — Brenda’s test was positive and her primary care provider referred her to our monoclonal antibody clinic.

Antibodies are the immune system’s fighting force. Monoclonal antibodies are lab-grown versions that, through a slow and steady infusion — in this case, over fifteen minutes — can greatly boost a body’s immune response to the coronavirus.

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In November, the drug maker Eli Lilly’s monoclonal antibodies, bamlanivimab, received emergency use authorization by the Federal Drug Administration, and Health First got its first shipment days later.

Patients with a positive test result who have a high body mass index, diabetes, a suppressed immune system, or other high-risk factors such as asthma may be ideal candidates for the treatment.

Brenda received treatment at the monoclonal therapy clinic at Health First.

“We were socially distanced. The environment was constantly cleaned. The staff, especially Maria and Annette, were so kind and professional. The time went by fast,” Brenda said.

The therapy is not recommended for people in good health who are expected to have a robust immune response and fully recover. And benefits have not been observed in patients hospitalized for COVID-19.

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But at Health First, patients who present early in their illness and have the right profile will get monoclonal antibody therapy. The infusion now only requires fifteen minutes with a subsequent hour of observation. For

Brenda, it worked perfectly — it may have kept her out of the hospital.

“I came home, I signed into work, and I felt good,” she says. “I could literally feel it, like, ‘I’m energized!’ I felt, even more, energized the day after.”

Brenda’s recovery was not always smooth. About a week after treatment, she suffered a setback that kept her in bed for a couple of days. Her doctor said it was part of her recovery from COVID-19, a novel and resilient pathogen that takes all of our immunity — and then some.

“Monoclonal antibodies are a very important therapy, and we’re proud we can provide it to so many Brevard residents, as it is not available everywhere,” says Dr. Lee Scheinbart, Chief Medical Officer, Health First Hospital Services.

“Monoclonal antibodies are a very important therapy, and we’re proud we can provide it to so many Brevard residents, as it is not available everywhere,” says Dr. Lee Scheinbart, Chief Medical Officer, Health First Hospital Services.

“At Health First, we are treating high-risk COVID-19 patients and getting promising results.”

Please note that to ensure that a patient meets the clinical criteria for treatment, every patient is required to have a doctor’s order. If a patient meets the criteria, they can also receive this therapy after hours and on weekends in our emergency departments.

To find out more about Health First’s monoclonal antibody infusion clinic, and the latest efforts Brevard’s community healthcare system is taking to combat this public health crisis, visit HF.org/staywell.

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