KCHD seeks funding for antibodies treatment

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha Charleston Health Department is seeking a million dollars in an emergency grant from the state Department of Health and Human Resources as part of its ongoing COVID-19 response.

Health Department Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sherri Young wants the money to help establish a Monoclonal Antibody Clinic at the headquarters of her department in Charleston.

Dr. Sherri Young

“Monoclonal antibodies is our last line of defense to help keep people alive and get them better through this surge,” she said on MetroNews “Talkline” Friday.

The treatment is an infusion of Covid antibodies into a person who has tested positive for Covid 19.

According to Young, there are qualifying conditions which will be laid out, but essentially the person is sick, but not so sick they need the hospital yet. The idea, according to Young, is to keep as many patients out of the hospital as possible during a time when bed space in West Virginia hospitals is critically tight.

“More than 90 percent of them have not been vaccinated, so what we’re creating is an immunity to help them fight the virus so that they don’t get worse,” she explained.

Already the health department has purchased three chairs and is in the process of retrofitting space at the headquarters to crate the infusion center. She said the money requested would help hire additional staff and pay for additional equipment.

“To start off, we’re only going to be able to do 6 to 12 infusions a day but we’re trying to build the capacity for 12 chairs and doing about 36 infusions a day,” she explained.

Young hoped to have the new facility up and running and ready to begin treating at least the minimum number of patients by next Friday.

James Hoyer

It’s an initiative that could go statewide in a few days, according to state InterAgency Task Force Director Jim Hoyer.

Hoyer said it will be with the West Virginia Primary Care Association.

“A plan to expand testing capabilities at those areas and well as additional triage support for those who think they have Covid and need assistance along and in addition to that it will expand the availability of the antibody treatments in those facilities as well,” Hoyer said during Friday’s coronavirus media briefing.

Hoyer said the move should help relieve some of the pressure on the hospital system in the state.

The effort could be rolled out next week, Hoyer said.