OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations at the East Alabama Medical Center (EAMC) has been slowly declining after hitting a record high this month.
Hospital officials said they believe the numbers could have been even worse, if not for their COVID Infusion Center.
Since its opening in early December, hundreds of patients have come through the doors of the COVID Infusion Center to receive a special IV containing a medicine called Bamlanivimab.
“It’s a monoclonal agent that helps the symptoms be less severe,” said Haley Calhoun, a nurse in the infusion center. “It also helps the healing time.”
Calhoun said a prick of needle and an hour-long infusion can make a big difference.
“Most people we’ve heard from say they feel better within 24 to 48 hours,” she said.
The IV drip is under an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. According to Calhoun, it contains special antibodies that supplement your own antibodies in order to fight COVID-19.
The ultimate goal of the treatment is to keep people from being hospitalized who are currently showing mild to moderate symptoms, but are at a high risk of developing severe COVID-19 complications.
Calhoun said the infusion center has done just that.
“Typically 15 to 20 percent of patients that have these symptoms would need to be hospitalized, but since we’ve had the infusion center, only 4.3 percent of patients have needed to be,” she explained.
The one-time IV was originally administered to patients inside a section of the main hospital building. EAMC officials said they felt they had to create the infusion center to ensure no infusions go unused and they always have the proper staff and space ready.
“This is the first one in our area and that’s a good feeling, knowing we’re here in our little hometown able to help people,” Calhoun said.
According to EAMC, only certain people qualify for the treatment. You have to have tested positive for COVID-19 within three days, had symptoms for less than seven days, and have certain medical conditions.