St. Luke’s University Health Network announced Wednesday that it had treated its 1,000th COVID-19 patient with life-saving monoclonal antibody (MAB) therapy.
“With the collaborative efforts of many smart and motivated people, this monoclonal infusion program has become incredibly successful in the outpatient care of patients with COVID-19,” said infectious disease specialist Peter Ender, MD, at a news conference at St. Luke’s Easton Campus. Ender oversees St. Luke’s COVID-19 treatment programs. “The logistics were not always easy, but this group has found a way to get it done.”
Monoclonal antibody therapy at St. Luke’s has helped hospitals in the greater Lehigh Valley region avoid being overwhelmed during the current surge by allowing certain high-risk patients to recover quickly in the comfort of their own homes.
Granted emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the therapy uses monoclonal antibodies to block the virus’s attachment and entry into human cells. Infusion has been found to be particularly effective in preventing the need for hospitalization in select, higher-risk patients, including those who are 65 years of age or older and whose infection, identified early, does not yet require supplemental oxygen.
In November, St. Luke’s became the first health care provider in Pennsylvania to offer MAB therapy in an outpatient setting. The first clinic opened at St. Luke’s Easton Campus. Shortly thereafter, a second clinic opened at St. Luke’s Warren Campus in Phillipsburg, N.J.
Earlier this month, St. Luke’s Miners Campus opened St. Luke’s third MAB clinic, which is now the only facility in rural Schuylkill County offering this important therapy.
St. Luke’s is a regional leader in monoclonal antibody treatment, and officials said they are proud to have made such an important weapon in the fight against COVID-19 accessible to the diverse communities they serve.
St. Luke’s University Health Network, which is participating in research on the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies, has found the therapy reduces hospitalizations by 50 percent and emergency room visits by 40 percent, resulting in a significant reduction in the burden–including the financial cost–that COVID-19 places on the health care system. The network added that it will be submitting the results of its study for consideration by peer-reviewed academic journals.
Note: This local health news is brought to you in partnership with St. Luke’s University Health Network.