HATTIESBURG, Miss. (August 11, 2021) In an ongoing effort to help COVID-19 patients on the road to recovery, Forrest Health is offering monoclonal antibody infusions to eligible COVID-positive patients at its five regional hospitals. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins produced by our bodies to fight infections. They are not vaccines. The Regen-COV antibody is currently being used at Forrest Health facilities and does require an order from a physician.
The use of monoclonal antibodies has received emergency use authorization by the FDA for treatment of COVID-19-positive patients in non-hospitalized situations who are at high-risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms that might require hospitalization. Patients who require oxygen due to COVID-19 are not eligible.
“Monoclonal antibody infusion is an excellent therapy that is very beneficial to people who have tested positive for the COVID virus but who aren’t sick yet,” said Forrest General Chief Medical Officer, Steven Farrell, MD. “This doesn’t mean they don’t have symptoms. They may have a sore throat, headache and feel bad, but their oxygen isn’t super low, and they don’t have to be in the hospital. The benefit of this infusion is that it is administered in the outpatient setting. The antibodies help prevent people from getting sick enough to go in the hospital and from getting sick enough to go to the ICU. It has clearly been shown to be beneficial. We are recommending that anyone who is COVID positive look for a site where they can receive the monoclonal antibodies and get that done.”
Farrell said while the antibody, which is ordered by a physician, may be given within 10 days of a positive COVID-19 result, it is most beneficial to receive it as soon as possible, preferably within 7 days. Patients should be evaluated for eligibility by the physician who diagnosed them or their primary care provider. That healthcare provider can then order the antibody before scheduling occurs.
Those eligible for the infusion are COVID-19 positive patients who are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms or need hospitalization. High risk individuals are those with the following medical conditions or other factors that may place adults and pediatric patients (ages 12-17 years and weighing at least 88 pounds) at higher risk for progression to severe COVID-19:
- Older age (age 65 and above)
- Obesity or being overweight
- Chronic Kidney disease
- Immunosuppressive disease or immunosuppressive treatment
- Cardiovascular disease (including congenital heart disease) or hypertension
- Chronic lung diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension)
- Sickle cell disease
- Neurodevelopmental disorders (cerebral palsy)
- Having a medical-related technological dependence such as tracheostomy, gastrostomy.
Other medical conditions or factors may also place individual patients at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19.
The antibody treatment is an intravenous infusion and takes about 20 minutes. A patient will be monitored for an hour after the infusion. For now, Forrest Health treatments are infusions but that could change over time to include injections.
A call center has been launched to help coordinate these antibody treatments. “The goal is to increase capacity within our 19-county service area for this treatment,” said Millie Swan, Forrest Health vice president. “Patients with a COVID-19 positive result or their provider can call 601-288-4444 to schedule an appointment at one of Forrest Health’s five regional hospitals.”
Scheduling lines are open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Forrest Health regional hospitals are located at:
- Highland Community Hospital – Picayune
- Pearl River County Hospital – Poplarville
- Marion General Hospital – Columbia
- Jefferson Davis Community Hospital – Prentiss
- Walthall General Hospital – Tylertown
This information along with other COVID-19 resources can be found at fhcovid19.com or visit any Forrest Health hospital website.