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Health Watch: Fairbanks Memorial Hospital administers 1,000th monoclonal antibody treatment

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 4:14 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (FMH) recently administered their 1,000th monoclonal antibody treatment.

According to Michelle Bender, Registered Nurse with Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, the treatment has been able to help not only those infected, but also potentially prevent countless more from being infected.

“Over the weekend, we infused our 1,000th monoclonal antibody patient,” Bender explained, “which was a huge deal for us because when we started this program, we weren’t sure where it was going to go or how many patients we would have come through. So to know that we’ve been able to see a thousand patients in our chair, and then however many countless lives we’ve prevented from transmission in that instance was a huge deal for the group of us that kind of undertook this program and giving these infusions.”

Since the the implementation of the treatment program, changes to the operating procedures have taken place to ensure the best treatment possible for patients.

“We moved into a much bigger space,” Bender elaborated. ”When we very first started, there were two nurses that were giving these infusions. We were just kind of adding these patients into our everyday schedule. As this program took off this past summer, we each trained five to seven more nurses, the hospital built us this room that we’re in right now to be able to accommodate I think up to... I think we saw 27 patients in a day at one point. So just the vastness of how much it took off for the facility, the ability to get patients in nearly the same day just to prevent delay in treatment, was a huge deal for us - and the support that FMH gave us and that the community gave us was overwhelming.”

And the implementation of a dedicated monoclonal antibody treatment facility at the hospital has it’s advantages according to Bender.

“The big advantage was the throughput,” she elaborated. “The ability to get patients within an hour of their order coming through to us, and then having a place where we can not only give the infusion, but we could recover the patients safely. In our regular operating infusion department, we only had three rooms available and we would only put one patient in each room unless it was a couple to prevent privacy issues, and then also to prevent any other transmission of disease processes. So to be able to bring it up here was the ability to see 10 patients at a time... we could put two to three nurses up here in this room and those nurses, as soon as the patients would show up, they would call to let us know they were here, we’d bring them right into the building and have them seated, [and] have their infusions going ASAP. So, there was really no delay in patient care, which was tissue that we were seeing with being in our smaller transmission room.”

While the monoclonal antibody treatment is very effective, there is a procedure in place one must go through before being able to receive it.

“One big misconception with the monoclonal antibody treatment is that everybody can have it,” Bender commented. “There are qualifications for this treatment. There’s a list, and that’s the list that tends to change. We call it the emergency authorization use. Patients, if you are diagnosed with COVID or you have onset of COVID symptoms, the biggest thing to do is get tested immediately. The sooner that we can get this infusion in patients’ systems, the better the outcome. We’re not a walk-in clinic so a lot of patients would call us and say, ‘What do I have to do to get the treatment?’ So then of course we still have to refer them back to either their primary care physician or to a walk-in clinic for physicians that do have privileges to order the drug.”

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