First vaccine given in parish

Dr. Christopher Ingram of the NRMC Regional Cardiology Clinic was the first of those working on the COVID-19 front lines to receive the virus vaccine, administered by Jennifer Behan, LPN. “I’m thrilled. I couldn’t be any better,” said Ingram. Photo by Hannah Richardson

The Prevention Phase

Source: NRMC

Natchitoches Regional Medical Center has received its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine and will begin immediately vaccinating front-line Associates and Providers who are caring for COVID-19 patients at NRMC. The first shipment contains 125 individual first-round doses. Associates receiving the vaccine today will receive their second and final dose in 21 days. According to CDC guidelines, NRMC will receive and distribute the vaccine to Associates in a three-tier process. Within 60-to-90 days, all Associates will have an opportunity to take the vaccine.

“I want to recognize Dr. Phyllis Mason, Chief Medical Officer, and Sarah LaCour, Vice President of Quality, for their relentless work each day on our organization’s response, proactive actions and patient care protocols for COVID-19,” noted Kirk Soileau, Chief Executive Officer. “In recent months, they have worked closely with the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in preparation for the release of a vaccine. Their leadership and commitment have resulted in many positive outcomes, including our vaccination process.”

“Today is truly a historic day,” Soileau noted. “Since last spring, our Associates have done so much to care for those with COVID-19, putting their own health concerns aside in service to others. And while we took every precaution to keep our Associates safe, we looked forward to the day when there would be a vaccine for this virus. That some day is here, and I look forward to our Associates now having the opportunity to receive it,” Soileau said.

Tom Matchuska, left, and Anne Powell accept the first batch of 125 Coronavirus vaccines from the courier just before noon Tuesday, Dec. 15. Photo by Hannah Richardson

The Treatment Phase

NRMC announces Monoclonal Antibody Outpatient Infusion Therapy

Source: NRMC

Natchitoches Regional Medical Center is pleased to announce that it is administering its first Monoclonal Antibody Outpatient Infusion Therapy today, Dec. 15. In clinical trials, the therapy has been proven to reduce COVID-19 related hospitalizations or emergency room visits. The goal in providing this therapy is to help prevent disease progression.

This therapy is not designed for those who are currently hospitalized with the virus. “We know that there are many people at high risk for becoming very ill from COVID-19,” explained Dr. Phyllis Mason, Chief Medical Officer at NRMC. “We want to help those at high risk by providing this therapy as quickly as possible after diagnosis and before their condition worsens. If we can help them before they need hospitalization or emergency care, then we will have prevented them from potentially experiencing the worst of COVID-19. We are so very excited to have the Monoclonal Antibody therapy available and to offer it on an outpatient basis here at NRMC.”

The criteria established by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) includes a listing of those who are defined as high risk such as those with diabetes, chronic kidney disease, obesity and those on immunosuppressive treatments. Patients who are older than 65 years, and those older than 55 with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension or cardiovascular disease are also candidates for this therapy. It can also be used in children ages 12-17.

The FDA’s criteria for children includes patients who are obese, those who have congenital or acquired heart disease, neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy, those with medical-related technological dependence such as tracheostomy, gastrostomy or positive pressure ventilation (not related to COVID-19) or asthma or other reactive airway or chronic respiratory disease that requires daily medication.

“We see first-hand how severe COVID-19 can be on the high-risk populations. Being able to now offer a therapy regimen that helps prevent severe illness is beyond fantastic news,” explained Kirk Soileau, Chief Executive Officer at NRMC. “I want to thank team members in our Pharmacy, Nursing, Medical Staff and throughout the hospital for their work in bringing and providing this therapy at NRMC. Early successes across the state and nation are impressive. I also want to encourage anyone who meets the high-risk criteria and who tests positive for COVID-19 to seek care immediately. This is another example of how early diagnosis and treatment can save lives or prevent severe complications.”