Arkansas nursing homes begin offering monoclonal antibody treatment to residents

Right now, it’s only offered in a couple of nursing homes, but the Executive Director for Arkansas Healthcare Association said they hope to expand it soon.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — While most staff and residents inside nursing homes have received their first vaccine shot, other facilities are taking it a step further.

Greystone Nursing and Rehab, LLC in Cabot is one of the three long-term care facilities in Arkansas that will begin offering the monoclonal antibody treatment to their residents. 

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A treatment that Rachel Bunch, Executive Director for Arkansas Healthcare Association, hopes will keep patients out of the already crowded hospitals.

“I really think this is going to save lives, I think this is going to improve the quality of life for a lot of our patients,” she said.

It’s another layer of protection for our most vulnerable population. 

A pilot group of long-term care facilities in Cabot, El Dorado, and Wynne, according to Bunch, are beginning to offer the COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment to high-risk residents showing mild to moderate symptoms.

“This is another thing that will really raise the bar, medically, for what we are able to offer in our facilities,” she said.

Bunch said within the first week the nursing home in El Dorado, Courtyard Rehabilitation and Health Center LLC, used it on 12 of their 18 positive COVID-19 patients. 

Within 48 hours, staff could see a noticeable difference in those residents.

“That was pretty encouraging to hear because we’ve never done this before and this is all new to us,” she said.

The treatment, which uses antibody infusions created to slow the development of the virus, is available at certain pharmacies. 

Bunch and her team have been working to match those up with facilities who are interested, but more partners may be in the works.

“Hospitals have doses of this, but they don’t always have the right patients to use it on because they’re busy taking care of really sick patients, so we are working with them on how to maybe transfer those to local nursing homes,” she said.

Now that over 26,000 staff and residents inside long-term care facilities across the state have been vaccinated, Bunch hopes this treatment is another tool in their fight against COVID-19.

“We just want to improve the quality of life and try to prevent more of our patients from getting sick and having other complications,” she said.

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Bunch said more facilities in Arkansas will soon be able to offer this treatment to their residents.

While discussing vaccinations, she said she is hopeful most of the residents and staff inside long-term care facilities will receive their second dose by early February.