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Jordan Valley Community Health Center is expanding access to monoclonal antibody therapy to help treat COVID-19 patients. 

In response to the growing need for medical care in the region, Jordan Valley Community Health Center, Missouri’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center, in partnership with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced that it has expanded access to COVID-19 monoclonal antibodies (mAb) at multiple locations, including the Hollister location, in Missouri, according to a press release from Jordan Valley Community Health Center. 

“As a community health center, we are committed to ensuring that our community has access to COVID-19 care,” Executive Vice President of Jordan Valley Community Health Center Dr. Matthew Stinson said in the release. “Providing monoclonal antibody treatments to COVID-19 positive patients not only fulfills our mission as an organization, but allows us to play a part in helping our state recover from this pandemic. 

“As the Delta variant rapidly spreads through the state of Missouri, we are honored to be a part of this important health equity initiative and do our part to help patients recover and prevent further spread of the disease,”

With a rapidly spreading Delta virus variant, the state of Missouri is in the midst of a major surge in COVID-19 cases, according to the release. 

“Missouri is now on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 and the Delta Variant, and we are fortunate to have such dedicated health professionals in our state who are rising to the challenges of this new spread of COVID-19 cases. Nowhere is that clearer than at Jordan Valley Health Center,” Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Robert Knodell said in the release. “We still have a lot of work to do to get beyond this virus, so we are pleased to support more access to monoclonal antibody therapy treatments as a key part of our state plan to crush the virus and save lives. 

“We are very pleased to support the incredible staff at Jordan Valley to expand treatment to underserved patients as part of this initiative, bringing a faster recovery and hope to patients across Missouri.”

According to the release, the therapy is for people who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and are at high risk for developing severe illness. This promising mAb treatment has been shown to help prevent progression of the disease that might otherwise require hospitalization.

Melissa Wehner, Executive Director of Regional Services for Jordan Valley, said the infusions were granted for emergency use by the FDA. 

“We are providing infusion services in our Hollister clinic, our Lebanon clinic, as well as our Springfield clinic,” Wehner said. “The infusions are granted in emergency use so they are emergency use authorization by the FDA for outpatient use. They are a Phase 3 clinical trial and they show that antibody therapy reduced the risk of hospitalization by up to 87% in patients that received the intravenous infusion.” 

According to the release, if administered within 10 days of onset of COVID-19 symptoms, the one-time therapy is highly effective in neutralizing the virus and preventing symptoms from worsening. 

“What they’ve found is that the infusion is effective in neutralizing the virus and preventing the symptoms from worsening. It’s not going to make them better the next day…it’s just preventing the symptoms from worsening,” Wehner said. “What we are trying to do is keep them out of the hospital. We’re trying to keep them where they’re at and not have to go to the hospital and be on oxygen. 

“Anything that we can do to have people heal at home is always optimal, I think.”

The infusion is available to patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, Wehner said.

“It has to be administered within 10 days of onset of their COVID symptoms. And it is a one time therapy. It’s a one time infusion, so they would come for three hours, the infusion (process) lasts three hours, and then it would be completed. There are several infusions they do in the hospital, when patients are in the hospital, that are like five to 10 days, it’s not like that. It’s a one time infusion therapy that has to be administered within 10 days of the onset of their symptoms. And they have to have tested positive. That’s one of the qualifications they have to meet.

 “(When) our patients come in, we usually have the infusion rooms in an area where the patients can enter through a door where it’s just them. A provider then sees them virtually and talks through what the infusion is, what it’s going to do, how long it’s going to take, and all of that. Then the nurse sets up the infusion with the patient and the patient then has the medication. 

“It takes about three hours between getting the medication and then watching them after the medication for a certain amount of time.”

Wehner said patients have two options to get scheduled for an infusion. One they can get a referral from their doctor who will then schedule their appointment in the scheduling system or if they have tested positive for COVID-19 and do not have a doctor referral they can call Jordan Valley and have a nurse evaluate them to see if they meet the infusion treatment guidelines. 

“The referrals that are coming from providers outside (of Jordan Valley), we’ve sent them a link so they just go in and they know exact times that we have open and available. They click the link that we sent them,  they put the patient right on the schedule, they attach the referral paperwork that shows that they qualify, and then they are done. So it’s a very easy process to refer over. We also have had patients calling in directly. They’ve tested positive and they want to be referred. So we work through that referral process as well, internally at Jordan Valley.”

Wehner said Jordan Valley has tried to make the process as easy as possible for patients. 

“We’re not going to turn away a(n) eligible patient. We can figure out how to take care of them working through our providers working at Jordan Valley. So we’ve made it a very easy process,” Wehner said. “We’ve given all the providers in the area a step by step process and a link. All they have to do is click on it and they just plug a patient in and attach their referral, or we have our phone number where anybody outside can call and get set up for an infusion as well.”

Wehner said the goal of offering the infusions is simply about trying to give patients a chance to not be hospitalized. 

“It definitely neutralizes and prevents the symptoms from worsening so hopefully we’re preventing hospitalizations and 87% who receive (the infusion) were not hospitalized or reduced their risk of hospitalization,” Wehner said. “I think that’s the most important part that we hone in on is that our hospitals are feeling overwhelmed right now with just all of the patients that are coming in, so if we can try to reduce that at all. 

“This is a good way for us to really serve patients and give them the opportunity to not be sent to the hospital. It’s hopefully preventing hospitalization in a lot of those patients.”

Jordan Valley Health Center is the first provider organization in Missouri to join the health equity initiative and joins a growing list of mAbs therapy providers supported by KPMG and sponsored by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of the federal effort to help end COVID-19 and improve health equity in underserved communities across the country. In addition to the three sites in Missouri, nearly 30 sites have now been established or expanded under this initiative in Landover, Maryland; San Diego, California; Detroit, Michigan; Barnstable County, Massachusetts ; Houston, Texas; Beckley, West Virginia; Worcester, Massachusetts, and western Michigan.

“People across the country continue to test positive for COVID-19, and many of them are still at great risk of severe hospitalization and even death from this virus,” Dr. John Redd, chief medical officer for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in the release. “We encourage anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to discuss with their healthcare provider if monoclonal antibody treatment is right for them. 

“We are pleased to partner with leaders in the medical community, like Jordan Valley Community Health Center, to make this treatment more accessible.”

 To confirm eligibility for the treatment, receive a referral, and book an appointment, patients should contact 1-833-TREAT-COVID (1-833-873-2826).

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