Memorial Health using antibody treatment to help reduce COVID hospitalizations


SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Leon and Joyce Parrish both tested positive for COVID-19 a month ago. When the couple found out they were both eligible to receive an antibody treatment, they decided to give it a go.

“I was too sick to be nervous. I just wanted to get some relief somewhere,” Leon Parrish said.

Memorial Health in Savannah is using a monoclonal antibody treatment, which is made in a lab and given to patients through an IV infusion. The therapy serves as a supplement to your immune system.

“I work in health care and so I’ve seen people that are on vents battling it and you know you’ve heard stories and so you know what it can do,” Joyce Parrish said. “We just felt like if there was a treatment option available that would help, hopefully, minimize those symptoms for us, it was the right decision for us.”

The Parishes are two of 900 patients to receive the therapy at Memorial. The hospital began using the treatment just before the most recent surge in cases with the delta variant.

“The main hope for the treatment is obviously for the individual to recover from COVID in a quick manner,” said hospitalist Dr. Dwayne Gard. “But one of the main things we look at is whether the patient ultimately needs to be hospitalized for COVID.”

Of those patients who received the antibody treatment, 94% avoided hospitalization, according to Gard.

The treatment is meant for people who have COVID symptoms but are not in the hospital or on a ventilator. You must also meet certain criteria including:

  • Being 65 years and older
  • Having an underlying condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney or lung disease, sickle cell disease and neurodevelopmental diseases
  • Body mass index over 30
  • Pregnant
  • Dependent on medical-related technologies

The Parrishes said 10 days after treatment, they were feeling better and back to work. Without the antibody treatment, they don’t know if the outcome would be the same.

“We were blessed. We never lost taste and smell the way some people do,” Joyce Parrish said. “It’s hard to tell now what it would have been had we not had the treatment, but feel like for us the treatment probably helped.”

Memorial Health has a dedicated area in the hospital to give the infusions. Dr. Gard said the entire process takes about three hours. He recommends talking with your primary care doctor to see if you qualify for the treatment.

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