O’Bleness Hospital opens specialty infusion center for COVID-19 patients

Staff Report

ATHENS — OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital has opened a Specialty Infusion Center for patients with COVID-19.

It will be used solely for infusion of FDA emergency use authorized monoclonal antibody treatments, targeting patients with mild to moderate forms of COVID-19 in high-risk patients.

OhioHealth started offering this service through OhioHealth At Home’s Advanced Home Services in Athens County, and has since opened the infusion center according to Lucy Bucher, senior director of medical affairs for O’Bleness Hospital.

Patients must meet very specific criteria for the treatment, then a provider connects them with teams who perform the infusions either at the infusion center or in the patient’s home.

“As we continue to combat the rapid and rising spread of COVID-19 in Athens and the surrounding counties, monoclonal antibody infusion has the potential to keep high risk individuals with COVID-19 out of the hospital,” said Bucher. “We also ask community members to continue to do the things we know to be effective to help slow the spread of COVID-19: wear a mask over the mouth and nose, avoid gatherings of more than 10 people, and wash your hands frequently. We all have to work together to keep each other and our community safe.”

The infusion treatment involves giving monoclonal antibodies as a single dose via IV administration. According to Katie Toopes, director of OhioHealth At Home, Home Health, the treatment decreases a patient’s viral load, which may lower the chance of disease progression and hospitalization according to published studies.

If given early, this therapy can be an important treatment to help keep high risk individuals with COVID-19 out of the hospital. The infusion process takes about three hours — an hour for set up, an hour for the transfusion and an hour for observation, according to Dr. Joseph Gastaldo, OhioHealth medical director of infectious diseases.

“We know that this treatment is generally well tolerated by patients; having the ability to do this in an outpatient setting, keeping these patients out of the hospital, and easing the load for our frontline hospital staff will be ultimately better for them, and the patient,” Dr. Gastaldo said.

Information provided by OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital.

Staff Report