Kalispell's hospital finds innovative method to fight COVID-19

Posted at 4:53 PM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 19:01:22-05

KALISPELL — Health care professionals at Logan Health treated their first COVID-19 positive patient with Monoclonal Antibody (mAb) Treatment on Nov. 20, 2020.

Logan Health was one of the first hospitals in the country to treat COVID-19 patients with Monoclonal Antibodies thanks to an emergency use authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“It has provided a benefit to keep people out of the hospital, and really it’s nice to be able to offer something to people who are in this high-risk category, that are definitely at high-risk to being admitted,” Logan Health Nursing Supervisor of Infusion and Vascular Access Jesse Arneson told MTN News.

Keeping COVID-19 related hospitalizations down was the goal when three health care professionals at Logan Health came together in the fall of 2020 to bring mAb treatments to the Flathead.

Jesse Arneson discusses Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

“Antibody treatments are designed to provide your immune system with kind of a little help along the way to attack this infection, these specific antibodies are designed to get stuck on the spikes of the virus so that basically in a sense will neutralize its effect,” said Arneson.

Health care professionals Arneson, Leah Scaramuzzo and Melissa Edmister studied the clinical trial for guidance, understanding how the drug works and assessing risks before deciding to bring monoclonal antibody treatments to Logan Health.

“I was arraigning for the space and to make it happen, and Jesse was getting the nurses lined up, Leah was the one pulling the data so that we could have the conversations and move forward with it together,” Logan Health Clinical Manager for Oncology and Infusion Melissa Edmister explained.

Logan Health is currently providing mAb treatment by infusion, with patients receiving four consecutive injections in the arm or abdomen.

Melissa Edmister discusses Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

Scaramuzzo said they spent countless hours talking directly with pharmaceutical companies on how to safely provide antibody treatment to patients.

“We had multiple conversations with them back and forth about the best way to administer, safe way to administer because we wanted to make sure that our patients were safe when we administer the drug, and our team was comfortable and competent to do so,” added Scaramuzzo.

Monoclonal Antibody treatments are designed to treat COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms regardless of vaccination status within days of the onset of symptoms. Patients must meet emergency use authorizations guidelines to receive treatment and have a referral from a physician.

“And between the provider and the patient the decision is made of the risks versus benefits and the patient would then qualify for the actual administration of the medication,” said Scaramuzzo.

Leah Scaramuzzo discusses Monoclonal Antibody Treatment

Edmister said the small team of health care professionals in charge of the treatment has now treated close to 2,000 patients. She noted some patients start to feel better within days, others in just hours.

“A lot of people kind of start gradually feeling better over the next day and so kind of by the next morning they’re feeling much better but literally I’ve seen people within an hour start feeling better, it’s miraculous when it kicks in like that,” added Edmister.

Edmister said they are now treating up to 25 patients a day with monoclonal antibodies, working up to 16-hour days to provide the best care possible for their patients.

“Part of what we say is patients come first and patients are the center of what we’re doing and so we will take care of the patient first and make sure that they have what they need and then we stay later, I kiddingly call it volunteer time and then will go and do our other jobs because I manage a number of programs and same with Leah and Jesse, so patients come first and then we squeeze everything in around it." ” Logan Health Clinical Manager for Oncology and Infusion Melissa Edmister.

Logan Health reminds Flathead residents that vaccination is still the best strategy to prevent COVID-19 infection and severe illness.