Center expands access to infusion treatment for COVID patients

September 16, 2021

New Hanover Regional Medical Center, now part of Novant Health, has secured permission from the N.C. Division of Health Service Regulation to open a designated COVID-19 infusion center to treat high-risk patients who have tested positive for the illness.

The outpatient monoclonal antibody infusion is a one-time treatment for newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients who are at the highest risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19. New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NHRMC) opened the temporary center to help expand access to this important treatment.

“This treatment reduces the risk of severe illness or death by 70%,” said Dr. Clyde Harris, NHRMC vice president of clinical excellence. The therapy must be administered at the first stage of infection to be effective.

NHRMC’s temporary infusion center, which replaces a mobile center, will include 15 chairs within an existing facility. The center will operate seven days a week to meet community demand, though hours will vary. Patients must have a referral from a provider to ensure that eligible high-risk patients receive access to the treatment.

Novant Health began administering monoclonal antibody treatment to COVID-19 patients in December 2020. Since then, we have administered these drugs to hundreds of patients in the Coastal market, Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Salisbury. 

Novant Health follows emergency use authorization criteria for monoclonal antibody treatment. Eligible patients meet all of the following conditions:

  • Have a positive COVID-19 test with mild-to-moderate symptoms.
  • Are not hospitalized.
  • Are over 65 years old or have other chronic conditions that put them at a high risk of progressing to severe COVID-19.

In addition to helping high-risk patients recover at home, the treatment can also prevent strain on the health care system, which has seen rising hospitalizations from COVID-19 in recent weeks.

To be eligible to receive the antibody infusion, patients must be within an appropriate timeframe from day of symptom onset. Because this therapy is only effective in the first stage of the infection, it is important for everyone, but especially those who are at higher risk, to get tested for COVID-19 promptly after noticing symptoms.

“I must stress that this antibody therapy is not a first-line defense,” Dr. Harris said. “That first line defense remains being fully vaccinated to protect yourself from COVID-19.”

The therapy is also offered by provider referral at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center.