In the past week, 1 out of every 433 Americans were diagnosed with COVID-19, and cases in the Upper Peninsula are rising. HNJH wants you to know that we are expanding our testing ability and adding new treatment therapeutics to ensure we are able to continue to care for our community right here at HNJH.
On the testing front, our new testing building is up and running. If you think you may be a candidate for COVID testing, please call our Coronavirus hotline at 293.9288 to schedule an appointment for testing.
HNJH now is able to offer the rapid antigen test. This new test gives a result in 15-30 minutes and is available for those situations where time a rapid result is desired for contact tracing or immediate medical decision-making. Some tests are still being sent out and take longer, but at this time most of our testing is using the rapid antigen test.
For most people who test positive for COVID, the recommended treatment is still to quarantine at home and use a symptomatic treatment such as Tylenol for fever, ibuprofen for pain, and drinking lots of fluid. However, HNJH is now able to offer remdesivir treatment for those COVID patients who are ill enough to need to be hospitalized and treated with oxygen. We have already used remdesivir here for a few patients. Having this treatment available has made it possible to keep more patients here at HNJH rather than needing to be transferred to an out-of-town hospital. Patients that are so severely ill that they may need more aggressive treatment such as a ventilator are still being transferred to hospitals that provide this service.
In the very near future, HNJH is expected to receive a small supply of a new treatment called bamlanivimab. Some may have heard of this medicine in the news referred to as “the Eli Lilly antibody treatment”. This treatment is not yet FDA-approved but is available as an investigational or experimental treatment. This treatment is used for a patient who has been diagnosed with COVID and has developed symptoms but is not ill enough to need oxygen or hospitalization. It is given as an outpatient as an intravenous infusion. It will be used for COVID patients who are at high risk for hospitalization such as COVID patients who are over 65 or have other significant health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, or immune diseases. Preliminary studies have shown that bamlanivimab given early after diagnosis may help prevent some high-risk COVID patients from getting ill enough to need to be hospitalized. The treatment has not been shown to be helpful for COVID patients who are low risk such as the younger, healthy patient. It has not been found to be helpful for patients who are already ill enough to be hospitalized.
Both of these exciting new treatments are in limited supply and could run short if the spread of COVID does not slow down. It is just as important as ever to prevent the spread of COVID by practicing social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand washing. If you are experiencing symptoms or would like to be tested, call the HNJH Coronavirus Hotline at 293-9288, Monday-Friday from 9AM-3PM, to set up a testing appointment.
Individuals with a positive test result will be contacted by the LMAS District Health Department. All other results are followed up by the healthcare provider who ordered the tests.