Merit Health offering new virus treatment

Published 1:00 pm Saturday, January 30, 2021

NATCHEZ — Merit Health Natchez recently began providing an antibody infusion therapy for COVID-19, known as monoclonal antibodies.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued emergency use authorization for the drugs, Regeneron and Bamlanivimab in late 2020.

They are approved for high-risk adult and pediatric COVID-19 positive patients with mild to moderate symptoms.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses. They are designed to attach to parts of the virus and help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the virus.

Dr. Geoffrey Flattmann, general surgeon and chief of staff at Merit Health Natchez, has already seen positive results in the patients he has treated with this infusion therapy.

“This is another tool in our toolbox and one we are grateful to have at our local hospital. People should inquire about this therapy through their primary care physician within 10 days or less of contracting COVID-19. Your physician will determine if you meet the criteria for this treatment,” Flattmann said.

Merit Health Natchez has designated patient rooms in a restricted care zone on its second floor to administer the medications on an outpatient basis.

“These drugs are allocated to us through our Mississippi State Department of Health, and we are pleased to have adequate dosages on hand,” said Lance Boyd, CEO of Merit Health Natchez.

“I commend our medical staff for their quick and positive response to our roll out of information on this therapy and our hospital’s processes and policies put in place for their ordering and administering. If this treatment can benefit those who are in the right risk groups, it can reduce their risk of getting sicker and very important for us, reduce their chances of hospitalization,” he said.

“We are excited about this promising treatment for high-risk patients early in a COVID-19 Diagnosis,” said Lee Hinson, chief nursing officer. “We also want to take this time to remind our community that we all must make every effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 by following CDC quarantine guidelines, limiting gatherings, wearing masks, washing hands, and maintaining social distance. And, of course, the ultimate answer is the rollout of the vaccine for all,” Hinson said.

The monoclonal antibody treatment is given as an outpatient and must be ordered by a physician. If you are COVID-19 positive and want to know if this treatment is available to you, contact your primary care physician.