WILMINGTON –– New Hanover Regional Medical Center opened a dedicated monoclonal antibody infusion center to treat high-risk, Covid-positive patients Thursday.
The hospital is able to open the center after securing permission from the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation Monday, according to a hospital spokesperson.
If given within 10 days of Covid symptoms appearing, the treatment can reduce an individual’s likelihood of becoming hospitalized or having adverse outcomes.
“This treatment reduces the risk of severe illness or death by 70%,” Dr. Clyde Harris, NHRMC vice president of clinical excellence, said in the release.
The announcement comes the day after Governor Roy Cooper stopped by the Cape Fear Clinic in Wilmington, a charitable nonprofit unaffiliated with the NHRMC system. Cape Fear Clinic was one of the first non-hospital providers to offer monoclonal antibody infusions in January.
NHRMC’s new and temporary monoclonal antibody (also known as mAb) infusion center is a 15-seat hub located within an existing facility. It will stay open every day with varying hours. Infusions are also available at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center with a provider referral.
Patients may only receive the treatment after obtaining a referral from a provider to make sure only high-risk patients get infusions, as supply is limited.
High-risk patients must: have a positive Covid test with at least mild symptoms; not be hospitalized; and be either 65 and older or have other chronic pre-existing conditions that place them at a high risk of experiencing severe Covid symptoms.
Novant Health (which now owns NHRMC) began mAb treatments in December 2020. NHRMC began the treatments “several months ago,” according to a hospital spokesperson. On the federal level, the first mAb treatment was approved for emergency use in Nov. 2020 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
NHRMC’s new infusion station is located in a trailer that initially served as a temporary mobile center provided by the Southeastern Healthcare Preparedness Region’s state medical assistance team, based at the hospital. The unit allowed the hospital to temporarily expand services amid increased patient volumes –– “the trailer allowed us to quickly stand-up an alternate care space,” a spokesperson explained.
The new center can help ease the strain on the healthcare system by allowing high-risk patients to recover at home, according to NHRMC’s release.
“I must stress that this antibody therapy is not a first-line defense,” Harris said in the release. “That first line defense remains being fully vaccinated to protect yourself from COVID-19.”
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