Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center recently opened one of the state’s first infusion centers to administer Bamlanivimab, a monoclonal antibody treatment for high-risk patients diagnosed with COVID-19 that do not require hospitalization and oxygen therapy.

The Bamlanivimab treatment, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration through an emergency use authorization in late-November 2020, is intended for individuals who have mild to moderate COVID-19 and are high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19, including those aged 65 years or older or who have certain chronic medical conditions.

“This is a huge game changer for individuals in our community who are high risk for COVID complications,” said Michael Burnett, chief executive officer (CEO) of Piedmont Athens Regional. “We’re so pleased that we can provide this treatment for patients in need and help them avoid hospitalization and further COVID complications. Our team has done an excellent job getting this center ready for patients in a short amount of time!”

Patients receive the treatment through infusion during an outpatient visit, and it works by preventing the COVID-19 virus from progressing once it’s infected them. Bamlanivimab mimics a person’s immune system response to viruses and blocks the COVID-19 virus from entering and attaching to cells.

The treatment has been proven to decrease the viral load in patients and has also been successful in reducing hospitalization for high-risk patients with COVID-19.

“We’re proud to be able to offer this to the Athens area,” said Robert Sinyard, M.D., chief medical officer (CMO) at Piedmont Athens Regional. “We’ve already seen many successes come from this treatment in just the short time our clinic has been operating, and it’s shown to reduce the risk of these high-risk individuals getting severely sick and keeps them out of the hospital.”

“It’s important to stress that this treatment is for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at a high-risk for hospitalization and potential complications," Dr. Sinyard added.

Those considered high risk include:

· People who are 65 years of age and older

· People who have chronic kidney disease

· People who have an immunosuppressive disease state or are receiving immunosuppressive therapy

· People who have a body mass index of 35 and higher

· People with diabetes

· And people 55 years of age and older with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, COPD or other chronic respiratory diseases

To receive treatment, patients need to be referred to the infusion center by a doctor within the first 10 days of having symptoms of COVID-19.

For more information on Piedmont’s COVID-19 response, visit piedmont.org/covid19.

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