A Promising COVID-19 Treatment Is Going Unused – and Doctors Want Patients to Be Aware

Memorial Hospital Pembroke still has hundreds of doses on hand for eligible patients

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For the last several weeks, when and where you can get the vaccine has been the focus for many.

However, for the thousands still testing positive for COVID-19 each day, news of a seemingly promising treatment has been somewhat overshadowed. 

“Everything points to a life-saving drug,” said David Starnes, the Chief Nursing Officer at Memorial Hospital Pembroke.

Since early December, Memorial Hospital Pembroke has been offering monoclonal antibody treatments to patients who qualify under the Emergency Use Authorization. It’s the same treatment former President Donald Trump received in October. 

Memorial has both the Eli Lilly, or Casirivimab and Imdevimab, by Regeneron on hand. Of Memorial’s 270 patients who have received the infusion so far, only four have ended up needing hospitalization. 

“The results are outstanding,” Starnes said.

“Within a couple of days of having this treatment, I was feeling much much better,” said Ellis Mass, who was Memorial’s very first success story with the treatment. 

He tested positive Dec. 1. 

“I remember the day because that was the day that Florida hit 1 million cases,” Mass said.

While he only had mild symptoms at the time, he knew he was a high-risk patient with upper respiratory issues. He worried about getting worse. 

His wife works in the medical field and had heard about Memorial Healthcare’s program and signed him up. 

“The infusion itself, in my case, was a breeze,” Mass said. “My virus cleared within a matter of a week of having received this treatment. I’m very happy that I got it.”

Despite the success stories, Starnes says the hospital still has about a thousand doses still on hand that could be put to use. 

“We're trying to get the word out to the community,” Starnes said.

The health care system is trying to inform patients and providers, who have to refer the patients within 10 days of a positive test and before the patient is too sick to be admitted to the hospital. 

Here's the criteria to receive the treatment:

Adult patients must weigh at least 88.19 lbs, have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days, have mild to moderate symptoms, and have one of these additional criteria:

  • Body mass index more than or equal to 35
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Immunosuppressive disease OR receiving immunosuppressive treatment
  • People over 65
  • People over 55, and have underlying conditions such as obesity, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, and immunodeficiency.

“The earlier we can give the drug, the earlier we can stop the infection process and the healthier the patient is going to be, therefore keeping them out of the hospital,” Starnes said.

Primary care physicians can email or fax the prescription, including symptoms and risk factors, along with a copy of the patient’s positive COVID-19 test to Memorial Centralized Scheduling. Appointments are available Monday through Saturday.

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