New Outpatient Treatments Could Reduce COVID-19 Hospitalizations
Outpatient clinics can provide treatments that would have required patients to stay in the hospital.
When the coronavirus reached Wisconsin earlier this year, hospitals were forced to focus on their sickest patients. But as the pandemic has drawn on, health care providers have also learned valuable information and adopted new treatments that have led to more opportunities for outpatient care.
This week, Mayo Clinic Health System opened an outpatient infusion center at its hospital in La Crosse and Eau Claire. Dr. Charles Nordstrom, physician lead at Mayo’s Northwest Wisconsin COVID-19 Therapy Center in Eau Claire, said new outpatient services could lead to better outcomes and reduce stress on hospitals.
Previously, patients who were otherwise ready for discharge might have remained in the hospital to complete their course. But the infusion center allows them to finish it as outpatients.
“This allows them to recover at home,” he said. “Mayo has wonderful facilities, but home is always better, particularly when you think about the isolation that patients need to undergo when they’re hospitalized.”
The other drug, Bamlanivimab, is a monoclonal antibody treatment recently authorized by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for emergency use in high-risk patients who are experiencing less severe symptoms. It requires just one dose and has been shown to reduce the likelihood of disease progression, Nordstrom said.
“This in turn should help reduce the need for both emergency room visits, as well as hospitalizations,” he said.
For now, supplies of Bamlanivimab are very limited. Still, Mayo believes these infusion sites will play an important role in treating COVID-19 patients, Nordstrom said. Mayo is working to expand its infusion services to rural critical access hospitals in Barron and Menomonie.
“By preventing disease progression and by facilitating earlier discharges, hospitals will be able to keep beds open for their communities. Additionally, by offering outpatient therapies, we hope to allow patients to recover sooner and reduce the isolation from family that can occur when hospitalized,” Nordstrom said.
When the pandemic first started, only the sickest patients were able to get tested for coronavirus. Currently, Wisconsin has one of the most robust testing programs in the country. Surveillance testing has led to more patients receiving early diagnoses, said Dr. Patricia Golden, a family medicine specialist with Ascension Medical Group.
“A lot of times, when we can start picking up patients in the earlier phases, there’s so much more we can do to mitigate their need to go to our emergency departments,” she said.
In April, Ascension began offering remote monitoring for high-risk patients well enough to recover at home. Since then, the program has seen hundreds of participants. Providers check in with patients multiple times per day, collecting their vital signs and asking more subjective questions about how their feeling. Their responses help determine whether patients need more hands-on care, Golden said.
At the clinic, long-haul patients can get comprehensive treatment plans based on their individual symptoms, Golden told WPR’s “The Morning Show.”
Golden is excited about new outpatient treatment opportunities that may help stave off more severe infections, including Bamlanivimab, but they’re no substitute for following public health guidelines to slow the spread of the virus, she said.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 89 percent of the state’s hospital beds were full on Wednesday. Given the magnitude of the pandemic, hospitals still need to prioritize their most vulnerable patients, Golden said.
Advances In Outpatient Treatment Could Mean Better COVID-19 Outcomes, Fewer Hospitalizations was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
- State Approves COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 12 and Older - Erik Gunn - May 13th, 2021
- Brewers Home Games to be at Full Capacity Beginning June 25 - Milwaukee Brewers - May 13th, 2021
- Milwaukee Removing Most COVID-19 Restrictions on June 15th - Jeramey Jannene - May 13th, 2021
- Wisconsin Now Offering COVID-19 Vaccinations to Children Ages 12-15 - Wisconsin Department of Health Services - May 12th, 2021
- WI Daily: 558 New COVID-19 Cases Reported - Urban Milwaukee - May 12th, 2021
- WILL Sues Biden Administration for Race, Sex Discrimination in Allocation of COVID Relief Funds for Restaurants - Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty - May 12th, 2021
- WI Daily: 517 New COVID-19 Cases Reported - Urban Milwaukee - May 11th, 2021
- Court Watch: Courts Face Shortage of Defense Lawyers - Gretchen Schuldt - May 11th, 2021
- COVID-19 pandemic heightens need for mental health professionals - Meta House - May 11th, 2021
- Milwaukee Bucks to Increase Fan Capacity at Fiserv Forum to 50% for Playoffs - Milwaukee Bucks - May 11th, 2021
Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here