Maury Regional offers monoclonal antibody treatments


COLUMBIA, Tenn. — As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, scientists began researching outpatient treatment options to combat the virus in its early stages. The goal of these studies is to reduce hospitalizations and improve patient outcomes.

One of the options showing tremendous promise for treating COVID-19 early in its course is monoclonal antibodies. On Nov. 21, monoclonal antibodies received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Shortly after, on Dec. 1, Maury Regional Health (MRH) opened a monoclonal antibody intravenous clinic on the campus of Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia. Wayne Medical Center in Waynesboro and Marshall Medical Center in Lewisburg are now offering the treatment as well.

“The goal of monoclonal antibody treatment is to quickly launch the body’s immune response in an effort to mitigate the severity of the disease and reduce hospitalizations,” said MRH Chief Medical Officer Martin Chaney, M.D.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off the virus for those who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and are at high risk for progression to severe illness. This includes individuals age 65 and older and those with certain medical conditions. Treatment should be administered within seven days of symptom onset and is not for patients who are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19 or who require oxygen therapy due to COVID-19. The infusion takes approximately one hour and the patient must be observed for one hour after administration.

To date, MRH has treated 644 patients with monoclonal antibodies and the hospitalization rate among those receiving this treatment remains low at less than 5% in spite of an increase in participation among elderly nursing home patients who are at high risk due to age and existing health conditions.

John and Kay Kay Williams of Maury County are among the patients treated with monoclonal antibodies at Maury Regional. Both tested positive for COVID-19 at Maury Regional Urgent Care after Kay Kay began experiencing symptoms of the virus, including a loss of taste and smell.

“The staff at the urgent care actually scheduled the infusion for us and got us in as quickly as they could,” John said. “Nothing really had to convince me to get the treatment because I thought it was my best and only alternative to being hospitalized — something that would help me get to feeling better. I like to take advice from smart people, so I did.”

After learning and consulting with their primary care providers, both John and Kay Kay chose to proceed, undergoing the treatment at the monoclonal antibody infusion clinic on MRMC’s campus. They described the staff as kind and supportive, doing everything to make them feel comfortable, safe and informed about the process.

Now, John and Kay Kay are several weeks past their recovery period from COVID-19.

“If a friend of mine was diagnosed with COVID-19 and their doctor recommended monoclonal antibodies, I would tell them to do it,” John said. “I want to do everything I can to reduce my risk for serious illness due to COVID-19. This virus is the worst thing I’ve been around in 70 years.”

Monoclonal antibody treatment at Maury Regional Health facilities is available for higher-risk patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. The infusion must be ordered by a health care provider, such as the patient's primary care provider, an urgent care provider or emergency room provider.

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