December 9, 2020 – Many hospitals across the country were given the opportunity two weeks ago to begin administering two new IV medications for COVID-positive patients in an effort to prevent inpatient hospitalizations. Lakes Regional Healthcare began administering the medications, Bamlanivimab and Casirivimab/Imdevimab, in late November for ER and Lakes Regional Family Medicine patients.
The medications are administered intravenously to patients based on certain criteria upon physician review. According to Lakes Regional Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Jeremy Bolluyt, DO, patients who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus may receive the medications if they have mild to moderate symptoms and meet other criteria regarding age, body mass index, weight, or comorbidities such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes, COPD, and hypertension. “The symptoms we are concerned with the most is the patient’s oxygen level. If it is in the 89 to 92 percent range, we want to do what we can to increase it because anything below that level would likely warrant an inpatient hospitalization,” he said. “People who have COVID and experience shortness or breath or who are breathing faster than normal often find that their oxygen levels are lower than they should be. These people are prime candidates for the medications.”
The results so far have been positive. None of the patients who have received the medications have returned to the ER, nor have they been hospitalized. Bolluyt said the hospital and physicians have been able to make a quick impact on patients. After reviewing the criteria, a physician can make a decision on the spot whether or not to administer the medication. It takes about one hour to administer the medication and then the patient can return home. In about three or four days, symptoms significantly improve. He said, “Providing this medication has not only prevented inpatient hospitalizations, it’s made the patients better faster, reduced the duration of their symptoms, and reduced healthcare costs.”
Those with questions are encouraged to talk to their healthcare provider.