Monoclonal Antibody Infusions Offer Hope to Many with COVID-19

Memorial Hospital Belleville is one of two BJC sites in Illinois administering monoclonal antibody (mAb) infusions for:

  • The treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients 12 years and older who are considered high risk, are early in their symptom presentation, and not receiving oxygen related to their diagnosis.
  • High-risk patients 12 and older who have a known exposure to COVID-19 and are unvaccinated or immuno-compromised.

People with severe, long-lasting (chronic) medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes seem to be at high risk of being hospitalized for COVID-19. An order from a provider is required to receive mAb therapy. There is limited information known about the safety or effectiveness of using mAb therapy to treat people with COVID-19. If you have questions, please consult your physician.

Leading the way

Memorial’s Manager of Outpatient Surgery Vickie Henry, RN, and Pharmacy Director Ryan Birk, PharmD, MS, BCPS, led the charge to make a difference in the lives of our COVID-19 patients and their families by opening a mAb infusion center within just a few weeks of the therapy becoming available in the area.

Henry noted initially they had a hard time making sure the community was informed about this new treatment option. 

“Our most important advocates ended up being our own team members,” she said.

Staff would share with their family members, and anyone else who would listen, how well the patients were doing, added Henry.

“Their families would in turn share with their friends and physicians,” Henry said. “And, it wasn’t long before we had people calling us to see what they could do to get this treatment for a family member or friend.”

“As we improve the health and well-being of the people and communities we serve, bringing innovative COVID-19 therapies to our patients was one highlight of the year,” said Birk. “Being one of the first hospitals to bring this therapy to Illinois, we have successfully administered over 600 infusions since December 2020.” 

Birk added that these therapies resulted in fewer patients being admitted to the hospitals, so they were able to spend the time recovering in the comfort of their homes. Also, it allowed Memorial Hospital the capacity to take care of patients who needed more critical care.

Teamwork is key

“This staff has never complained about staying late to ensure someone gets treated or coming in early so we could treat an entire family,” Henry said. “Living the BJC values by serving our community in their time of need has been the most rewarding part of this journey.”

“Our pharmacy team’s dedication to ensuring we could get a supply of the medication, compound it safely, administer it safely, and ensure positive patient outcomes was a major achievement,” Birk added.

“The best part was that we got to do it with all the other wonderful teams that leaned in to make this possible for our patients in a very short amount of time,” said Birk. “That teamwork across Memorial was what we will always remember, and the patients will never forget.”

Henry echoed Birk’s sentiments, “BJC and Memorial Hospital have allowed this team to be a part of something bigger than themselves. We will have stories to tell for years to come about how important this work was to our community.”

For more information about mAb infusion therapy for COVID-19, visit bjc.org/Coronavirus/ mAb-for-COVID-19.