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Your Healthy Family: Reduce the strain on CO hospitals, ask your doctor about monoclonal antibodies

Posted at 9:39 AM, Nov 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-08 12:14:45-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — In this Your Healthy Family, we're talking about the best way to reduce the current strain on our hospitals here in Colorado.

Dr. Adit Ginde, MD, MPH, is an emergency medicine physician with UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital and a professor of emergency medicine with the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Ginde has participated in clinical trials, and in some cases led clinical trials of monoclonal antibodies for COVID-19 in Colorado since summer of 2020, and has significant expertise when it comes to monoclonal antibody treatments.

Dr. Ginde says our current high rates of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are alarming. “The numbers and the hospitalizations in Colorado are looking scary. They are high and our hospitals are full.”

As of Thursday November 4th, 2021, statewide there were 343 patients in UCHealth hospitals with COVID-19, 266 of which were not vaccinated. Of those, 109 COVID-19 patients were in the I.C.U., 99 of whom were unvaccinated; 94 patients were on a ventilator, with 86 of them unvaccinated.

Dr. Ginde says 7 out of 10 patients who get monoclonal antibody therapy don't need to be hospitalized. “This is a treatment to keep people out of the hospital. The majority of people that receive this, up to 70% of hospitalizations are prevented through this treatment.”

Dr. Ginde says most people who test positive for COVID-19 are eligible for receiving a monoclonal antibody treatment. “The eligibility criteria are very broad: Three out of every four people who test positive for the virus will be eligible for this treatment. Essentially it’s people who are of older age, and people with any medical condition, really. People whose profession puts them at high risk, and racial ethnic minorities. We would certainly recommend (if you test positive for COVID) reaching out to your doctor or other sources of information and seeing if you're eligible.”

While monoclonal antibodies are extremely effective once you have COVID-19, Dr. Ginde is adamant that it’s not our best defense against the virus. “It's very important to emphasize that this is not a vaccine replacement. The approach to beating the pandemic is to vaccinate first and prevent illness. But if someone gets sick, there is an effective treatment available to prevent severe disease to essentially prevent people from being hospitalized or dying from this disease.”

The big takeaway from this story is that if you test positive for COVID, ask your doctor right away if monoclonal antibodies are an appropriate therapy for you. Dr. Ginde also says UCHealth is doing what it can to reach out to people who test positive, as well. “It's still a relatively new treatment, and getting the word out on new treatments can take some time. The virtual health center at UCHealth is proactively identifying high-risk patients that are being diagnosed with COVID and reaching out to them to offer this treatment - those who are at the highest risk for hospitalization, so we're not just waiting for people to come to us.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) deployed a monoclonal antibody treatment bus to El Paso County this week as part of efforts to expand access throughout the state to this COVID-19 treatment. The mobile bus is parked at The Citadel mall. UCHealth Memorial Central Hospital is also running these treatments 7 days a week and can treat 24 patients a day.

Remember that if you are symptomatic, get tested and if you test positive ask your doctor about monoclonal antibodies and keep yourself out of the hospital. The monoclonal antibody therapy is ideally given in the first few days of becoming symptomatic, and you do need a doctor's referral and an appointment to get this treatment.

UCHealth Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Information [medschool.cuanschutz.edu] (https://medschool.cuanschutz.edu/mab-colorado/information-for-patients?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIy6zwtpDD8wIVc25vBB1bRgecEAAYASABEgIUU_D_BwE [medschool.cuanschutz.edu])

El Paso County Monoclonal Antibody Treatment Information [elpasocountyhealth.org] (https://www.elpasocountyhealth.org/covid-19-treatment [elpasocountyhealth.org])

We will have more information about monoclonal antibodies in future stories. If you have any questions, please follow up with your doctor.

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