Who gets monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19?

Outpatient infusion lowers hospitalization rates for those at severe risk

Doctor and patient on medical consultation using digital tablet at patient's house. Both are masked against COVID-19.

For those who contract COVID-19 and are at risk of hospitalization from the disease, Sanford Health remains a leader in treatment.

Monoclonal antibody treatment

While every patient reacts differently to COVID-19, Sanford offers monoclonal antibody treatment to any patient who has tested positive within 10 days of their infection.

“Monoclonal antibodies bind to antigens and tell cells of the immune system to kill the invading pathogen. So as a patient, the advantage of receiving the infusion is to reduce symptoms and prevent hospitalization,” said Erica DeBoer, chief nursing officer at Sanford Health.

Since the start of the pandemic, Sanford has treated more than 4,200 patients with monoclonal antibody treatment. One recent recipient is Sheri Okland, who has asthma.

‘An elephant on my chest’

“I started with a really bad headache and then the next day I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and … I had an elephant on my chest,” said Okland, whose husband Doug works for Sanford Fargo. “I called the COVID nurse line here at Sanford and they said, go get tested. So the next morning (I) got tested and I came back positive Saturday morning.”

Two days later, Sheri Okland was at her monoclonal antibody infusion appointment in Fargo.

“It was pretty seamless because once I called the COVID nurse line, they just got everything going,” Okland said. “They just take you into a room and there was a recliner in there. And so you sit down and they give you a blanket and they do it through an IV.

“They called me probably a day or two after I had it done to see how I was doing. And by then I was doing much better. … I woke up the second day and the elephant was gone. So it was just more like a cold afterwards.”

Treatment available to all

Sanford is dedicated to providing monoclonal antibody treatment as an option for all of its COVID-19 patients.

“Any patient who has their COVID lab obtained at Sanford will receive a call with a positive test and be proactively screened and offered the opportunity to have a monoclonal antibody infusion. It is an important way for Sanford to support our patients and community,” said DeBoer.

That includes those patients who live in rural areas, or reside within Good Samaritan Society locations.

“We actually have infusion centers across our footprint, not just in our major medical centers. Because of the rural nature of where we care for our patients, it’s incredibly important for our teams and our employees to understand that we can get care close to home.”

Data suggests treatment is life-saving

As monoclonal antibody treatment is used more often, and more data around the treatment comes in, its benefits become clearer as well.

“Some national studies have suggested that we can reduce hospitalizations by up to 70%,” said DeBoer. “In our own patient data, specifically those greater than 60 years of age, we’ve seen a 50% decrease in hospitalization for those patients that have actually received the monoclonal antibody treatment.”

For people like Okland, who are at higher risk, the treatment is a wondrous option.

“When I found out I was positive, I was scared. Because I know what it’s like not to be able to breathe. So the minute they (brought up monoclonal antibody treatment) there was no question I wanted it, because I was already having struggles breathing.”

Monoclonal antibody treatment is just one more way Sanford Health is at the forefront of health care, and yet another example of the way Sanford works to provide the best options available for COVID-19 patients as well.

Information in this story was accurate when it was posted. As the COVID-19 pandemic changes, scientific understanding and guidelines may have changed since the original publication date.

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Posted In Aberdeen, Bemidji, Canby, Chamberlain, Clear Lake, Coronavirus, Fargo, Frequently Asked Questions, Jackson, Luverne, Mayville, Rural Health, Sheldon, Sioux Falls, Thief River Falls, Tracy, Vermillion, Worthington

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