Experimental treatment offers hope to patients and staff
West Monroe, LA (April 22, 2020) – While a vaccine for coronavirus may be months away, Glenwood Regional Medical Center was the first hospital in the region to provide convalescent plasma treatments for appropriate COVID‐19 patients, as a partner hospital with LifeShare Blood Center. The protocol is one that could be lifesaving.
“The treatment is considered experimental yet approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to be used on an emergency basis,” said Mark Boersma, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Glenwood Regional Medical Center.
“People who recover from coronavirus COVID‐19 infection have developed antibodies to the virus that remain in the plasma portion of their blood, Mark Boersma, MD explains. Transfusing the plasma that contains the antibodies into a person still fighting the virus can provide a boost to that patient’s immune system and potentially help them recover.”
The process can be lengthy, but the outcome could be lifesaving. The first step is finding a donor. Eligible donors must all regular donor requirements and meet the following criteria:
- Prior diagnosis of COVID‐19 documented by an FDA approved laboratory test, AND
- Be symptom free for at least 14 days with a negative COVID‐19 FDA approved test, OR
- Be symptom free for at least 28 days.
Glenwood has streamlined this process and had success in obtaining plasma from six donors thus far.
Once donors are identified, the physician must complete a pre‐donation form through LifeShare Blood Center. After the form is completed, a specialist will contact the donor within 24‐48 hours to verify the donor has met the criteria and to schedule a collection of blood. After the plasma has been collected it is sent to a processing facility where it undergoes additional testing. Within 3‐4 days, the plasma can be transfused into a patient with COVID‐19.
Dr. William Beebe, MD evaluates all COVID patients at Glenwood and looks for potential candidates to receive the treatment. While there is not a set criteria for which patients the treatment may be most beneficial for, appropriate FDA recommendations are followed. In administering the plasma treatment, Dr. Beebe identifies COVID‐19 patients who have mild to moderate symptoms or ones who have been on high‐flow oxygen for several days but are not showing signs of improvements. The key is to try to give the treatment to patients before they require intubation, which is the placement of an endotracheal tube into their mouth and airway so they can be assisted with their breathing using a ventilator.
Currently patients that are hospitalized receive medication to treat their symptoms but as Dr. Beebe states, “there are no medications specifically attacking the virus.” The hope is that by administering the convalescent plasma, there are enough antibodies within the treatment to attack the virus.
Glenwood Regional Medical Center has administered convalescent plasma treatment to five patients to present. While it may take one to two weeks to see the full impact of the treatment, the outlook appears to be looking positive after just a few days. According to Dr. Beebe, “treating the patients earlier may result in better outcomes and we are cautiously optimistic that this will save lives.”
About Glenwood Regional Medical Center
Glenwood Regional Medical Center is a 278‐bed, state‐of‐the‐art hospital located in West Monroe, Louisiana. Glenwood offers comprehensive healthcare services, including emergency care, heart care, advanced surgical procedures, diagnostic imaging, maternity care, rehabilitation services, and help for a broad range of medical conditions. Equipped with the most advanced medical technology, and staffed by a team of highly skilled healthcare professionals, Glenwood is committed to providing high‐quality care in a friendly hospital environment.
About Steward Health Care
Steward Health Care is the nation’s largest private, for profit physician led health care network in the United States. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Steward operates 36 hospitals in the United States and the country of Malta that regularly receive top awards for quality and safety.
The company employs approximately 40,000 health care professionals. The Steward network includes multiple urgent care centers and skilled nursing facilities, substantial behavioral health services, over 7,900 beds under management, and approximately 2.2 million full risk covered lives through the company's managed care and health insurance services. The total number of paneled lives within Steward's integrated care network is projected to reach three million in 2018.
The Steward Health Care Network includes five thousand physicians across 800 communities who help to provide more than 12 million patient encounters per year. Steward Medical Group, the company's employed physician group, provides more than six million patient encounters per year. The Steward Hospital Group operates hospitals in Malta and nine states across the U.S., including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah.