Wellstar is first in Georgia to offer new COVID therapy

Monoclonal antibody treatments are used to treat COVID-19 during the early onset of symptoms. .The treatment can also help to prevent severe illness and hospitalization.Last November, the FDA authorized Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ monoclonal antibody for use in a narrow group of people considered at high risk to develop severe cases of COVID-19.Studies have shown the treatment can be effective, and regulators have loosened criteria for qualifying to include overweight people.Health officials stress, however, the treatment is not a substitute for getting vaccinated

Now Wellstar Health, based in Marietta, offers COVID-19 monoclonal antibody (mAb) infusions at 11 of its locations across Georgia with a referral from a Wellstar physician.

Through a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Wellstar is expanding the number of mAb therapy appointments available to eligible patients at several existing treatment locations, starting with the Wellstar Cherokee Health Park location last Friday.

ExplorePulse: a digital magazine for nurses in the Southeast

Wellstar is the first healthcare provider in Georgia to join the HHS mAb Health Equity Initiative.

Emergency room and urgent care patients, who are identified as needing an infusion, will be eligible to receive the treatment.

For free, Wellstar patients may receive the mAb infusions; but the administrative fee for the procedure may vary due to the patient’s insurer.

If administered within 10 days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, the one-time mAb therapy – given through infusion – has been shown to be highly effective in neutralizing the virus and preventing symptoms from worsening, according to a Wellstar statement.

MAb treatment is used to help prevent the progression of the disease that might otherwise require hospitalization for people who are at high risk for developing severe COVID-19 illness and have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus or are unvaccinated and have been exposed to someone who has tested positive, the statement added.

“Our ability to meet the demand for COVID-19 treatment is a critical step in combatting the pandemic, and this partnership supports our mission of enhancing the health and well-being of the communities we serve,” said Snehal Doshi, senior vice president of Ancillary and Support Services, Wellstar Health System. “Being able to offer this treatment to more patients provides hope, recovery and vital access to COVID-19 healthcare options.”

ExploreAntibody treatment for COVID-19 becoming more widely available in Georgia

On March 17, HHS announced it was investing $150 million to increase access to mAb therapy for high-risk patients in underserved and disadvantaged communities across the nation.

With support from KPMG LLP, HHS is developing new prototype models for expanding access to mAb treatment, leveraging an existing network of healthcare partners, including Wellstar.

Wellstar joins a growing list of mAb therapy providers supported by KPMG and sponsored by HHS as part of the federal effort to help end COVID-19, especially in underserved communities across the U.S.

The therapy is the first COVID-19 treatment granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for outpatient use.

A Phase 3 clinical trial showed that the antibody therapy reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by up to 70% in patients who received the drug intravenously compared to those who received a placebo, the Wellstar statement said.

Treatment is offered regardless of immigration status, health insurance coverage or ability to pay.

Authorized by the FDA, monoclonal antibody therapy (mAb) is available to patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are considered at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

To learn more about eligibility and find a treatment location near you, visit crushcovid.com.

For more information, Wellstar patients can call 770-956-STAR (770-956-7827) or visit wellstar.org.

For more content like this, sign up for the Pulse newsletter here.