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Great Plains Health among first in Nebraska to administer drug to prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations

Great Plains Health administered its first doses of an antibody infusion drug aimed at keeping...
Great Plains Health administered its first doses of an antibody infusion drug aimed at keeping hospital numbers down Wednesday.(Beatriz Reyna)
Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 12:36 PM CST
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Great Plains Health administered its first doses of Bamlanivimab, a monoclonal antibody drug that recently received emergency use authorization from the FDA in the treatment of COVID-19.

The drug, pronounced BAM-la-NIH-vih-mab, is currently being allocated by the federal government. The first shipment arrived at Great Plains Health Wednesday and has already been used to treat multiple COVID-19 patients.

“We have already administered the first doses of this drug to patients and are hopeful at the results,” said Dr. Julie Query, Great Plains Health physician. “It’s pretty incredible that a hospital of our size and in our location is able to access drugs like this for our patients. We are seeing a lot of cases of COVID and whenever we can treat a patient in a way that prevents further hospitalization, we are pleased especially right now when our hospital capacity is already stretched.”

“We are excited to have this drug and offer it to patients in high risk categories that contract COVID-19,” said Jason North, Great Plains Health pharmacy director. “Clinical trials show that it could prevent symptoms from worsening and eliminate the need for hospital care.”

This drug is not available to everyone. There are eligibility factors considered prior to providers ordering this medication. Currently the doses allocated to Great Plains Health are for outpatient use only and patients must not need hospitalization or oxygen therapy. Patients ages 12 and older that have a confirmed positive COVID-19 diagnosis and are high risk for hospitalization may be considered for this drug among other criteria. Patients should contact their primary care provider to find out if they are eligible.

After the FDA approved “emergency use” of Bamlanivimab on November 9, the Nebraska state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) invited all hospitals across the state to assess their capability to participate in a federally funded allocation program.

In order to receive this federally funded donation of medication, Great Plains Health quickly mobilized a team of nursing, pharmacy and medical staff along with the information systems department and registration personnel to implement the logistics for safely providing this IV infusion medication in the ER department.

“Because of great teamwork, we successfully began administering this medication two days ahead of the projected regional start date,” said North.

Bamlanivimab is administered as a one-hour intravenous infusion, followed by one-hour of monitoring for any possible complications. Side effects are rare and include allergic reaction and nausea. The drug itself is free to patients, however there are related charges associated. Patients should contact their primary care provider who will work with Great Plains Health to schedule an infusion if appropriate.

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