Concord Hospital to expand monoclonal antibodies and debut antiviral pills

  • Members of the strike team at Concord Hospital have traveled from Utah, Mississippi, Florida, Arkansas and Georgia, with three more members set to arrive soon. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 1/8/2022 2:00:49 PM
Modified: 1/8/2022 1:59:57 PM

Concord Hospital, weeks into a COVID-19 surge that is straining resources, will deploy new strategies for keeping coronavirus patients out of the hospital.

The healthcare system will use an allotment of antiviral COVID-19 pills and continue to deploy a strike team from the federal government to help administer monoclonal antibodies. Both treatments have been shown to keep high-risk patients out of the hospital.

Concord Hospital reported having 40 COVID-19 patients on Thursday, two-thirds of whom are unvaccinated. Hospitals across the state are seeing some of the highest numbers of coronavirus admissions since the start of the pandemic.

Unlike many other hospitals in the United States, Concord Hospital has enough of a supply of monoclonal antibodies to meet demand, said Dr. Michael McLeod, associate chief medical officer. However, in New Hampshire there’s a critical shortage of staff licensed to administer the treatment intravenously.

McLeod said the team that currently administers the treatment in Laconia has worked long hours, seven days a week, for several weeks.

“I think part of it will be to try to give some of our folks a break,” he said.

A strike team, sent by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the governor’s request, arrived at Concord Hospital on Wednesday to help administer monoclonal antibody treatments to coronavirus patients who qualify.

The team is made up of nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and licensed practical nurses who will likely stay for 30 days. Two additional strike teams will be sent to Elliot Hospital and Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital. Monoclonal antibody treatments are also offered at some Convenient MD locations if a patient has a referral from their healthcare provider.

Dr. Jonathan Ballard, Chief Medical Officer for the state Department of Health and Human Services, said in a written statement that the assistance from FEMA will reduce the number of patients needing hospitalization, hopefully reducing the strain on the healthcare system.

Concord Hospital will also be debuting a new antiviral pill treatment that was recently issued an emergency use authorization to treat COVID-19 patients that are at high risk for serious illness.

The state allocated courses of Pfizer’s Paxlovid treatment to eight sites, including Concord Hospital. Those who qualify for the antiviral treatment will be given three tablets for five days, starting as soon as possible after a COVID-19 diagnosis.

“It’s going to be a tool that we can use to try to have an impact on those who are at highest risk for progressing to severe illness,” McLeod said. “Hopefully (it will) turn the direction that they might go clinically and keep them out of the hospital.”

Concord Hospital currently has enough pills for 24 people to receive a full course across all of the system’s locations, though they have not yet used any. They will later be eligible for 40 more courses of antiviral pills.

Many of the details surrounding antiviral treatment are still fluid, McLeod said. He said administrators are still working to delineate who will be eligible for the pills and how they will be referred to receive the treatment.

Teddy Rosenbluth bio photo

Teddy Rosenbluth is a Report for America corps member covering health care issues for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. She has covered science and health care for Los Angeles Magazine, the Santa Monica Daily Press and UCLA's Daily Bruin, where she was a health editor and later magazine director. Her investigative reporting has brought her everywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to the hospitals of New Delhi. Her work garnered first place for Best Enterprise News Story from the California Journalism Awards, and she was a national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists Best Magazine Article. She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology.

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