BEL AIR, MD (WMAR) — A new infusion center is bringing a life-saving COVID-19 treatment to Harford County.
"I’m extremely thrilled as a nurse to be able to provide this to our community," said Leslie Clark, the assistant vice president of Population Health for University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health.
"Everyone is really coming together to be able to give people in the community the best chance to beat COVID," said Dr. Colin Ward, Chief Operating Officer of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health.
UM UCH has opened a COVID-19 infusion center at the Bel Air campus to provide monoclonal antibody treatments.
The therapy is also available at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital, where more than 1,000 infusions have been completed so far.
"To be able to bring this therapy into the community of Harford County and potentially make it easier for the patients to come here, get the therapy and be back in their home in a short period of time is gonna be beneficial for sure," said Ward.
It’s for non-hospitalized people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are vulnerable to severe infection because of underlying medical conditions or they’re over age 65.
"This is certainly a therapy that we want to get out in the first 10 days, so it’s really important. It’s an early intervention," said Clark.
It’s an antibody treatment that if given within 10 days of the start of symptoms, can decrease in the amount of virus in the patients blood, slowing the progression to avoid severe impacts.
"Some of the research we have seen is a 60% decrease in hospitalizations and mortality. When the infusion is given, it binds to some of the protein spikes that are on the coronavirus which in turn stops the spread," said Clark.
It’s a one-time infusion of two medicines granted Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA.
The center opened last Thursday. They have treated 9 patients so far and have the capability to treat 10 a day. They have the supply they need; there isn't a shortage like with the vaccines.
Clark said there can be mild short-term side effects right after the infusion.
"This antibody therapy is just another arrow in the quiver in order to prevent hospitalizations and hopefully sometime soon return us to a sense of normalcy," said Ward.
Patients who fit the criteria and are interested should reach out to their health care provider. The center is appointment-only and you have to have a referral.