Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center mug (copy)

Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center opened one of Georgia’s first infusion centers to treat high-risk patients diagnosed with COVID-19. (Photo/Jason Born)

Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center opened one of Georgia’s first infusion centers to treat high-risk patients diagnosed with COVID-19, according to a press release. 

At this center, the treatment patients receive is Bamlanivimab. According to the release, this antibody treatment is designed for patients who do not require hospitalization and oxygen therapy but are at a high-risk for potential complications from the coronavirus. 

“This is a huge game changer for individuals in our community who are at high risk for COVID complications,” Chief Executive Officer of Piedmont Athens Regional Michael Burnett said in the release. “We’re so pleased that we can provide this treatment for patients in need and help them avoid hospitalization and further COVID complications.”

Patients receive the treatment through an infusion during an outpatient visit. The treatment prevents the virus from progressing once the person has already been infected.

According to the release, Bamlanivimab mimics a person’s immune system response to viruses and has been proven to decrease the viral load in patients and reduce hospitalization for high-risk patients. The drug was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration through an emergency use authorization in November. 

People considered high risk meet the following criteria: 65 years of age and older, people with chronic kidney disease, people with an immunosuppressive disease, people with a body mass index of 35 and higher, people with diabetes and people 55 years of age or older with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, COPD or other chronic respiratory disease, according to the release. 

“We’ve already seen many successes come from this treatment in just the short time our clinic has been operating, and it’s shown to reduce the risk of these high-risk individuals getting severely sick and keeps them out of the hospital,” Dr. Robert Sinyard, Piedmont’s chief medical officer, said in the release. 

To receive treatment, patients need a doctor’s referral within the first 10 days of having COVID-19 symptoms.