Antibody medication to treat COVID-19 is now being offered at Saint Francis Hospital in Muskogee. It’s been available in Tulsa, but hospital staff say it’s a game changer for patients in rural areas.
"It's a miracle, literally a miracle!" said patient Joy Sloan. Sloan was diagnosed with COVID-19 last Tuesday and by Friday she felt fine, after being the first person to get the monoclonal antibody infusion treatment at Saint Francis in Muskogee just minutes from her home.
"Often times, rural Oklahoma gets left by the wayside for whatever reason so any opportunity to be able to go, 'Yes, we have this in our small community' is huge," Sloan said.
Sloan said she is in her 60's and has arthritis. Pharmacy manager Bradley Atherton explains the treatment is for patients who are at high risk, like Sloan.
"It's a medication designed to envelop the virus and keep the virus from attacking your body. So, it's designed for those patients that are not ill enough to be in the hospital but have the potential to become that," Atherton said.
The emergency antibody infusion uses the medication called, "bamlanivimab." Atherton said infusion takes about three hours. Hospital Administrator Michele Keeling says having the medicine at Muskogee is important.
"An important aspect of this treatment is that it's outpatient so it's able to prevent hospitalizations in the rural communities where smaller hospitals are struggling with capacity," Keeling said.
Keeling adds it took a lot of training and collaboration to make it all possible. Sloan said she is grateful to celebrate Christmas COVID free.
"I'm a big believer in prayer so I will give it to God first and then I will absolutely say I believe it did," Sloan said.
Keeling said Saint Francis has received a limited amount of antibody medication from the state. She said she hopes more of their locations will give the treatment once it becomes more widely available.
For more information on "bamlanivimab" and the infusion treatment, click here.