Tuesday afternoon, Bothwell Regional Health Center reported opening a centralized COVID-19 outpatient management clinic at the Healing Arts Center, 3700 W. 10th St. The hospital stated the outpatient clinic was opened in response to high levels of the COVID-19 omicron variant in the community.
“The most recent data from the health department,” Dr. Philip Fracica, Chief Medical Officer at Bothwell, told the Democrat on Wednesday. “What they've been doing is wastewater analysis to actually look at the genetic makeup of the virus that is shed through the bowel movements, and the most recent indication is that we are at 100%, 100% omicron at one site.”
With the omicron variant now prevalent in Pettis County, monoclonal antibody treatments that worked on the delta variant are rendered ineffective and the IV infusion treatment is being halted. Now precious medication is being dispensed at the new outpatient management clinic to avoid confusion in protocols and treatment options.
The outpatient treatments include four medication options, oral pills or infusions, that can treat the omicron variant with varying levels of effectiveness. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 must have a referral from their primary care provider and will no longer be able to self-refer for monoclonal antibody treatment by calling the infusion center. Monoclonal antibodies may soon be hard to find.
“We were preparing for that eventuality,” Fracica said, “because when we were asked several weeks ago if we were interested in getting new medications that were going to be distributed by the government that might be useful for outpatient treatment, we said sign us up for as much as possible of everything.”
Dr. Gregory Doak is the physician practicing in the clinic, and will be determining the treatment for eligible patients. Once a doctor referral is provided, Doak will determine the best course of treatment based on patient eligibility, risk factors, and the availability of drugs. If a patient has received a positive test result, they should contact their primary care provider and ask for a referral for outpatient COVID treatment. For people who do not have a primary care provider, Doak will have limited appointments that can be made by calling 660-827-2730.
Bothwell has asked for patience as it starts up the clinic, which will remain in place until more inventory of medication is received.
“When we deal with a very, very complicated decision tree,” Fracica said, “involving a monoclonal antibody infusion, IV drug infusion, two pills, different time frames, it was potentially a nightmare to try and coordinate all that.”
Centralizing the process of getting the proper drugs to the right people in a timely manner while being judicious in the use of increasingly rare medications now means outpatient COVID medicines are being handled at the Healing Arts Center.
While early treatment is crucial before COVID variants get deeply into the lungs, the best protection against COVID-19, Fracica added, is vaccination, including a booster.
Learn more about vaccine options at brhc.org/vaccine.