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Regional antibody infusion center could be scaled back if treatment demand remains low

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 10:44 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - The Brazos Valley’s regional antibody infusion center opened in College Station on Thursday, but the initial demand for treatment hasn’t been as high as state and local officials had hoped.

That could result in resources getting pulled from the center and potentially shutting down if the trend doesn’t change. St. Joseph Health Director of EMS Billy Rice says only 10 to 15 infusions have been administered per day since the center opened at St. Joseph’s primary care location near Tower Point.

“We set up quite a sizeable infusion center, so we currently can process up to about 60 a day, with the capacity to go to 120 if we needed to,” Rice said. “We believe that the need is real. We really feel like if we just kind of get the word out some more and let people know how easy it is to get into the infusion center, these numbers will probably come up, and we’ll probably continue to support this project for at least another month or so.”

Because of this, the center is in danger of getting scaled back.

“If it’s not needed here, it’s needed in some other part of the country,” Rice said. “The staff who’s come in, they’re all travel staff that came in to help put this thing together, and they’ll move to another part of the country where there is a need.”

Brazos County Judge Duane Peters is one of the officials who helped bring the center to town. He encourages anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 to get this treatment because it worked so well for him after he was diagnosed back in June.

“This was the treatment that I got, and within 36 hours of the time I took the treatment, I was back to work,” Peters said. “I’ve got a ranch, and I was out there working.”

Peters says he started showing allergy-like symptoms on a Tuesday night. By the next morning, he says he started to run a mild fever. He tested positive for the virus and got the infusion treatment later that same day.

Peters says he truly believes the infusion saved him from eventually entering the ICU.

“There’s really no doubt in my mind because I was struggling to breathe during that period of time,” Peters said. “I believe had it not been for the monoclonal antibodies, and possibly the budesonide, I certainly could have ended up in the hospital.”

The infusion center isn’t just an important tool for COVID patients, though. It’s vital for healthcare workers as well.

“If we’re unable to keep the infusion center running here, it’ll fall back onto our hospitals who are already at capacity and already dealing with much sicker patients,” Rice said. “They’ll have to pull staff who are in the ER or ICU or wherever they are, to do infusions on less sick patients.”

Monoclonal antibody treatment is free for anybody who needs it, but patients need a doctor’s referral to get it. If you don’t have a doctor, you can call the infusion center directly at 979-690-4478 to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.

“This really is attempting to catch the patients at the very, very beginning, and so they can call the number and see a physician here who’s on-site and evaluate them, make sure they meet the criteria, and get them in,” Rice said. “We know the need exists. We’re trying to catch patients at the beginning of their infection so they don’t wind up in the ICU. We want to keep patients safe and healthy, get them home, and feeling better.”

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