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A relatively new Covid-specific Antibody that is shown to alleviate COVID-19 symptoms is now being offered in a novel location in Lafayette. Infusions of bamlanivimab, the new Covid Antibody Treatment, are now being safely administered at Camelot Rehabilitation at Magnolia Park. Treatment began in mid-December, with overwhelmingly positive results seen in those who have received the treatment.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved bamlanivimab in November for emergency-only treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients who are at particularly quantifiable high risk for progressing to a severe COVID-19 condition and/ or hospitalization. “The idea of the infusion is that it reduces the progression of the COVID disease,” said Marti Andries, a PHS nurse practitioner who works exclusively at Camelot Rehabilitation and who was instrumental in arranging for the infusions at Camelot Rehabilitation. “The people who receive the infusion are, subsequent to the infusion, having milder cases of Covid-19 than they would have likely had. One person was asymptomatic the entire time. People are doing great.”

The treatments have been offered to both Camelot Rehabilitation residents as well as non-residents in the community who make arrangements to be admitted to the facility with their physicians. Andries said the infusions first began through a partnership with Ochsner University Hospital and Clinics. Because the treatments were working so well, the team at CCI and Camelot Rehabilitation wanted to offer them to patients who would otherwise have considerable difficulty getting to a free-standing infusion center, including those with dementia or limited mobility.That’s when Andries got on the phone with UHC, state health officials, and other partners. “It all came together really quickly,” she said. “We got everything together and we were able to infuse our first three patients on December 19. It’s gone very smoothly. The state has told us they can send us more as we need it.”

The antibody infusion is for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 and meets other specific criteria, such as 55 years of age or older with a prespecified underlying condition that puts them at high risk for hospitalization due to Covid-19. Andries said that ideally, the treatment is given within the first 24 to 48 hours of diagnosis. The infusion is given through an IV and takes about one hour. Patients are isolated from those who have not had COVID and are closely monitored after the treatment for at least one hour. Camelot Rehabilitation at Magnolia Park is one of the first nursing homes in Louisiana to offer the infusions.

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For CCI, the treatment is a continuation of the company’s extensive steps to mitigate the effects of the virus. Paula Richardson, CCI’s Regional Administrator, noted that a COVID unit was established at Camelot Rehabilitation last March as case numbers increased. The unit has been used for COVID-positive patients from all of CCI’s local facilities.

“We decided we could have a higher level of care quality and infection control by having one unit,” Richardson explained. “When the infusion became a possibility, Marti called and wanted to know if we were interested and we said ‘absolutely.’ Since the team at Magnolia has helped to spearhead our COVID efforts, it felt like a natural fit to offer the infusions there.”

Richardson said the COVID unit is completely sealed off from the rest of the facility as part of a sophisticated infection control design. The unit can be expanded as needed, depending on the number of COVID patients at any given time.

Dr. Ashton Reed, a PHS physician serving as Medical Director with CCI (Camelot Rehabilitation at Magnolia Park and Camelot of Broussard) sai most people who have received the infusion have seen improvements in their symptoms. To qualify for the infusion, patients must have certain risk factors, including being over age 65, or being over age 55 with a body mass index (BMI) over 35 and having a history of other conditions, including stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure or diabetes. Other factors may alsobe considered before a person is approved for the infusion.

Reed said anyone who believes they may be a candidate for the infusion should speak with their primary care physician for information and scheduling options. Richardson added that CCI hopes to offer the infusions at Camelot Rehabilitation as long as there is a need in the community.

“It really is exciting,” Reed said. “Our focus now is on getting the word out that we have it and educating the local physicians about who qualifies. We’re fortunate to be able to offer it because having the right environment to administer the infusion is difficult.

Because we have the COVID unit at Camelot Rehabilitation, with its own staff, we immediately had the ability to offer it once our Nurse Practitioner, Marti, got the ball rolling. In my opinion, Marti is saving lives with this offering.”

Andries said she is simply grateful to be able to help both CCI residents and others in the community have a better chance at recovery. “We just want to do what we can to take care of our residents,” she said.

“Being able to offer this and not having to transfer people to a separate site really makes a big difference. We are able to offer it in a comfortable environment with close monitoring so we can make sure everyone is receiving the best treatment possible.”

CCI operates Camelot of Broussard in Broussard, Camelot Rehabilitation at Magnolia Park in Lafayette, Camelot Brookside in Jennings, Camelot Community Care in Ponchatoula, Camelot Place in Rayne and Northridge Care Center in Baker.