When John Erickson tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 1, he was surprised.
Luckily for John, 77, there is a new and potentially lifesaving treatment available right where he lives at Good Samaritan Society – Davenport in Iowa. It is the monoclonal antibody therapy, or bamlanivimab, and it can be administered by Society staff members on site.
“I’m at risk and I thought it might help,” John says.
Emergency use authorization
The treatment is authorized following an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is given through an IV infusion and can help reduce the severe symptoms that can accompany COVID-19. The goal is to get it to vulnerable people like John who are at risk for severe symptoms because of underlying conditions.
“Asthma, that would be it. High blood pressure,” John says.
John believes getting the therapy has helped keep him symptom-free and on his way to recovery.
Natasha Gilbert is the director of nursing services for the Society in Davenport. She says her staff is accessing the therapy through a partnership with the local Genesis Health System. Genesis is providing the Society with the medication.
“This is something that really could be lifesaving,” Natasha says.
Antibody therapy bringing joy
Following months of exhausting effort to keep residents safe, Natasha is grateful to finally have some help in the fight against the virus.
“There’s been isolation and quarantine. People getting really sick. People dying. This has been the most joyous thing that I have experienced during this pandemic,” Natasha says.
Her staff has been working nonstop since March to battle COVID-19. The long-term care location transformed part of its rehab space into a COVID-19 unit.
“November is when our center went into outbreak status by both definitions of the CDC and Iowa Department of Public Health,” Natasha says. "It went fast and furious. We did have staffing challenges. In that, we really found that our staff really rose to the occasion to do the best that they could with the situation we had."
Who's eligible for antibody treatment
Two residents, including John, meet the criteria to get the monoclonal antibody therapy. Both signed up to receive it and Natasha says the in-house process was easy.
“They were really just kind of relaxing while they were getting the infusion. It wasn’t anything exciting to see but knowing what was happening really brought joy. We were watching two residents who we were potentially saving their lives by giving them this medication,” Natasha says.
Having that ammunition against coronavirus and being able to protect residents means a lot to the health care heroes in Davenport.
“It really just brought joy and boosted staff morale. Gave us all hope that we’re making a difference now by doing this,” Natasha says.
Several other Society locations are also beginning to provide the infusion including Good Samaritan Society - Lennox, South Dakota, Miller Pointe - A Prospera Community in Mandan, North Dakota and Good Samaritan Society - Hastings Village in Nebraska.