Dear Residents and Families,
I am writing to share exciting news that provides additional hope in our fight against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). For the last few months, I have been overseeing the administration of a new treatment for individuals who are currently infected with the Coronavirus. This treatment— monoclonal Antibody infusion (mAb)—is now available to Ecumenical Retirement Community residents. It is being provided by trained members of our CCS Healthcare staff at our sister community-Country Meadows of West Shore in Mechanicsburg as well as by Country Meadows’ co-workers at the Nursing Center located on the Country Meadows of Bethlehem campus. At this time these are the only two locations at which we are permitted to administer the therapy.
This treatment is available to residents who are within ten days of symptom onset and are experiencing mild symptoms and who meet other specific criteria. We are actively identifying residents who may qualify for the treatment and will contact those residents and families directly. I strongly encourage individuals who may qualify for the mAb treatment to receive the treatment as early as possible after symptom onset.
We have provided the mAb treatment to nearly 100 residents with a 97% success rate, helping these individuals avoid trips to the hospital and minimizing serious complications, including mortality. Frankly, these outcomes are remarkable. This treatment has not been made widely available to the general public due to the difficulty in setting up the infusion process. However, through a partnership with Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center as well as the ingenuity of our team, we are able to make this available. We are thrilled we can offer it to our residents to reduce the severity of the disease course.
We also are excited that Ecumenical Retirement Community residents and co-workers are being vaccinated at clinics scheduled at our campus. We have a lot of hope for these vaccines and are eager to return to a sense of normalcy. For the time being, however, for the protection of residents and staff members, we must continue our visitation restrictions and encourage video calls between families and residents.
Even with these exciting weapons in our arsenal to battle COVID, we must continue to be vigilant in our ongoing precautions. In addition to restricting visitation, this means continued mask usage, social distancing, frequent hand washing and avoiding large gatherings to decrease the risk of potential spread of this virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before changing our prevention tactics. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, also will affect this decision.
Thank you for staying vigilant in protecting each other during these difficult times. Thank you all for your continued support of our organization.
John Hopkins, DO
Corporate Medical Director, Ecumenical Retirement Community and Country Meadows Retirement Communities
President, CCS Healthcare
Frequently Asked Questions
What are monoclonal antibodies?
Antibodies are proteins that people’s bodies make to fight viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Antibodies made in a laboratory act a lot like natural antibodies to limit the amount of virus in your body. They are called monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies have transformed the way we prevent and treat disease, from cancer and diseases of the immune system to childhood viral infections. They are based on natural antibodies, which are proteins the body produces to defend itself against disease, mimicking the human immune system. They are tailor-made to the illness they treat. The first monoclonal antibody product was licensed more than 30 years ago. Since then, millions of people have benefitted from more than 100 such treatments. This is one of the fastest-growing fields in biomedical research. Monoclonal antibodies have been referred to as “one of the few lifesaving treatments available for COVID-19.”
What is monoclonal Antibody infusion (mAb) treatment?
The monoclonal Antibody infusion (mAb) treatment was created to reduce severity of symptoms in those infected by the COVID-19 virus. It works by imitating natural defenses instead of waiting for the body to mount its own response, attaching to and entering human cells. This is the same treatment received and touted by former President Donald Trump after his release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. It has been shown to decrease the severity of illness in at-risk patient populations infected with COVID. It may help their symptoms improve sooner — and they may be less likely to need to go to the hospital.
Is this an approved treatment for COVID-19?
The FDA authorized emergency use of mAb to keep high-risk COVID-19 patients out of the hospital, reducing the strain on emergency rooms and, possibly, hospital ICU beds. According to Dr. John Hopkins, corporate medical director for Ecumenical Retirement Community and Country Meadows Retirement Communities, “My team and I have treated approximately 100 patients with this treatment and the outcomes have been remarkable. We have seen a 97% recovery rate.”
For whom is the treatment recommended?
Monoclonal antibody treatments are for people who have tested positive for COVID-19, are within 10 days of symptom onset and are experiencing mild symptoms. The treatment should not be used for patients who are hospitalized or need oxygen therapy due to COVID. For those people, the antibody treatment may make these conditions worse.
How is the treatment administered?
The treatment is delivered through intravenous (IV) infusion, directly into a person’s vein. The infusion takes approximately one hour, and the patient will be monitored throughout the infusion as well as for an hour after the infusion is complete. Since individuals undergoing this treatment have tested positive for COVID-19 and are infectious, infusions will be done in areas separate from other residents and co-workers by a co-worker in full protective gear.
What should I tell my healthcare provider before I receive mAb?
Tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you have any allergies, illnesses, as well as all medications including prescriptions, over-the-counter, vitamins and herbal products.
What are the possible side effects of mAb?
Possible side effects of include allergic reactions such as fever, chills, nausea, headache, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, wheezing, swelling of lips, face or throat, rash, hives, itching, muscle aches and dizziness. During and after the infusion, our team will monitor participants for any reactions.
Am I a candidate for this treatment?
Ecumenical Retirement Community’s staff is working with Corporate Medical Director John Hopkins, D.O. to identify residents who may qualify for the treatment and will contact those residents and family directly.
Will my insurance cover treatment with monoclonal antibodies?
The federal government is distributing antibody supplies at no cost to patients, meaning there is not an out-of-pocket cost to the individual. Insurance providers may be billed to administer the treatment so residents and families may notice those charges to the insurance company.
Can I still get the COVID vaccine if I have a monoclonal antibodies treatment?
You should delay receiving a vaccine for three months after the onset of COVID symptoms.