MAb Team Administering Hope
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Outpatient Infusion team worked behind the scenes but was key to keeping people out of the hospital and setting them on the road to recovery. This team was responsible for organizing and administering monoclonal antibody infusions throughout North Mississippi Health Services.
The infusion reduces the illness in individuals at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and hospitalization.
Key players on the team include (from left) Leslie Taylor, Pharm.D.; Kelli Smith, RN; and Lisa Chandler, RN
“As soon as we learned the monoclonal antibodies would be available for outpatient use, a multidisciplinary group from across the health system began work to provide the drugs to COVID-positive patients who met the criteria,” says Patti Hawkins, system director of Ambulatory Pharmacy Services and 340B, which includes Outpatient Infusion. “Coordination and communication were critical. With support from the team, a dedicated infusion center in Tupelo was established within two weeks and ready for operation when the drug arrived.”
NMHS gave its first dose of monoclonal antibodies to treat COVID-19 on Dec. 3, 2020. Since then, almost 10,500 doses have been given at NMHS hospitals in Tupelo, Amory, Eupora, Iuka, Pontotoc and West Point, Mississippi, and Hamilton, Alabama, as well as at the mobile testing site that was established near the Mall at Barnes Crossing in Tupelo.
This team worked long hours, including making and taking phone calls after hours from home. Through it all, they were focused on serving people and minimizing the effects of this deadly virus.
“Our local doctors felt strongly that we should provide this service locally to keep them from having to travel to Tupelo for the infusion,” says Kathy Patrick, chief nursing officer at NMMC-Iuka. “Being able to offer monoclonal antibodies at our local hospital was a big win for our community.”
The sites took a team approach—if one facility couldn’t accommodate a patient, they would ask other facilities if they could. “We were being bombarded with referrals, not just locally, but from everywhere,” Kathy says. “Every time we got a phone call or fax, I’d say ‘yes, go ahead and schedule them here.’ I could not stand to turn anyone away knowing we could give them something that could possibly save their life.”
Kathy tells about one instance when they gave 48 infusions of monoclonal antibodies at NMMC-Iuka in one day. “Every person in the hospital was involved to keep it moving,” Kathy says. “Every treatment room was full, and while we would take a patient back to their car, Housekeeping was preparing the room for the next patient. Pharmacy and Admissions staff were amazing—the ER doctor even came around and helped us wheel patients back to their cars. I still get teary-eyed even thinking about it. This was the most incredible thing I have seen, and we did not turn away anyone that day!”
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, this team helped keep people out of the hospital and set them on the road to recovery.