New drugs help prevent Covid-19-related hospital admissions

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The Southern Trust hailed the arrival of breakthrough new drugs for the treatment of Covid-19, explaining that the drugs potentially prevent hospitalization of vulnerable patients infected with COVID-19.

Craigavon ​​Hospital is one of six sites in Northern Ireland offering outpatient antibody and antiviral treatment to the most clinically at risk patients across the region.

Eligible patients who test positive for COVID-19 are supported through their PCR or lateral flow test results, will be assessed by a physician and referred to the nurse-led service. The team receives referrals twice a day, seven days a week. Since they launched the service in December, they have delivered 579 treatments, and only six of those patients have required additional hospital care.

They have also developed a community outreach service, where the team now visits homebound patients who cannot come to the clinic, to administer treatment.

Dr Damian Gormley, Deputy Medical Director of the Southern Trust, explains “Thanks to very rapid research and development, we are now able to bring treatments that were previously only available to hospital patients, to those running the greatest risk of being injured by COVID-19 worldwide. community.

Care nurses Ashlene Martin and Amanda Anderson with administrator Cerea Williamson.  Other unpictured crew members are Ciara Hannaway, Eddie Kearney, Graham Moore, Helen Wilson and Cathy Donnelly.
Care nurses Ashlene Martin and Amanda Anderson with administrator Cerea Williamson. Other unpictured crew members are Ciara Hannaway, Eddie Kearney, Graham Moore, Helen Wilson and Cathy Donnelly.

“Neutralizing monoclonal antibodies and antivirals (nMabs) have been shown to improve survival and recovery time from COVID-19. They are offered to eligible patients in the early stages of infection and should be given as soon as possible after a confirmed positive PCR or lateral flow test.

“Once referred, patients will be assessed and advised on appropriate treatments, this may be through an infusion into the arm on an outpatient basis or you may be prescribed the antiviral in oral form to take at home.

“While vaccination remains the first line of defense against COVID-19, these treatments give us an extra level of support to protect vulnerable patients, preventing them from serious illness.

“It is a huge credit to the team who have worked tirelessly to set up this new service in such a short time and who, together with their primary care colleagues, are committed to preventing potential hospitalizations for many patients.”

Patient feedback has been very positive, Catherine O’Neill said: ‘When I tested positive with the PCR test for COVID I was contacted and offered an antibody infusion as I had breast cancer. The speed with which I was offered the treatment was exceptional. Eddie and Margarite were on duty and their attitude, spirit and personality made the process painless. They had worked long hours and knew I had COVID and were always willing to risk their health to treat me. In my book, they are wingless angels, as are all the nurses and doctors who have worked throughout this pandemic. »

If you are eligible for treatment because you have a condition that puts you at highest risk for COVID-19 and you have tested positive, using a PCR test or sidestream, you will receive a message letting you know that your local Trust may be in touch.

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