Until recently, the federal government did not ask hospitals to report how many doses they gave patients, although this will begin on Jan. 8. Nor is there a single hotline or website to help patients find a provider in their area who will offer the treatments.
Dr. Skovronsky said patients who call Eli Lilly’s hotline will eventually receive the treatments. “But that’s not right,” he said. “It shouldn’t be just for people who are persistent, know how to call around, and have doctors to get it. It should be for everyone. “
Doctors and hospital directors said factors that have hindered the US’s response to the coronavirus have also hindered the distribution of antibody treatments.
Every day in Green Bay, Wisconsin, doctors from Prevea Health, a major medical practice in the state, call high-risk patients who have been tested in the state to offer the treatments. However, the federal test sites don’t share patient information, making it difficult to reach people who might benefit.
“We haven’t done a very good job – nationally, locally and everywhere – getting to these populations at risk and saying, ‘Hey, if you feel sick we need to know right away,” said Dr Ashok Rai, president and Managing Director of Prevea Health.
Despite the obstacles, Dr. Rai, Prevea has made some progress. At the beginning of the pandemic, the intensive care unit at one of their partner hospitals, HSHS St. Vincent, filled quickly as outbreaks occurred in long-term care facilities. But since the treatments became available, workers have rushed to deliver them in two assisted living centers, reducing the number of patients in the hospital.
“It’s noticeable in our numbers now,” said Dr. Rai.
Another challenge is to find space and staff to carry out the treatments safely. In Rome, Georgia, Floyd Medical Center has repurposed several rooms on the hospital infection ward with Covid-19 patients for IV fluids. And because Floyd is low on staff, the nurses sometimes had to work late to do the treatments, said Dr. Daniel Valancius, who leads the hospital’s monoclonal antibody program.