Regional Medical Center opened a new COVID-19 treatment center at the former 10th Street Elementary School on Wednesday.
The treatment, known as monoclonal antibodies therapy, stimulates a patient’s own immune system to help fight the disease. According to Bridgett Magouirk, director of occupational health and wellness at RMC, COVID-19 patients will obtain the treatment through a referral from their physician or nurse practitioner.
Magouirk made the announcement during RMC’s weekly COVID-19 update on social media. She said the protocol will be that RMC will notify a COVID patient after his or her medical professional makes the referral.
The former school is located at 1525 East 10th Street across the road from First Presbyterian Church.
“Pull in the front and we will assist you from there,” Magouirk said, referring to the bus entrance accessed on the playground side of the building.
Magouirk said the infusion will last about an hour and a half and patients can bring their own snacks and drinks if they wish.
Magouirk said that patients are not allowed to bring a companion with them.
“Almost all that are in there are positive patients and they are contagious,” she said.
Magouirk suggests that patients who visit the center wear loose-fitting clothes.
Magouirk thanked the Anniston school board and other community partners to facilitate the center.
“Without them this would not be possible,” she said.
She also urged everyone to get their COVID-19 vaccine: “Do not wait, vaccinate — or we’ll see you soon.”
Also during the RMC social media broadcast, Michele Ford, director of education and infection prevention at RMC, said there were a total of 57 COVID-19 patients at the hospital on Wednesday. Of those, 49 had not been vaccinated, four are fully vaccinated and four are partially vaccinated, according to Ford.
There was one positive COVID-19 case waiting for treatment at Stringfellow hospital.
Ford said that 15 patients are in ICU and are on ventilators. Out of those 15 in the ICU, 13 of them had been unvaccinated, one was fully vaccinated and one was partially vaccinated.
Ford said there were 10 COVID-19 patients in the hospital’s emergency department and one of those patients was on a ventilator.
Dr. Almena Free, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer, painted a grim picture of COVID counts across the state and at RMC.
Free said statewide there were more than 880 COVID cases in ICUs, with more than 607 patients on ventilators.
“If you look at the math to adjust, we’re COVID heavy, ICU heavy, critical care heavy, vent heavy — and if you look at the rest of the country as well as our state, every state is dealing with the same problem: very very critically ill patients,” said Free.
“We had two deaths last night, one death this morning,” Free said.
Free said that since April 14, 2020 — the day of the first COVID death in Calhoun County — there has been a total of 253 deaths.
Free did not hold back with her plea to the public to help curb the pandemic.
“So people please again, begging you, do the right things, wear your masks, vaccinate, stay healthy, can’t stress that enough, the illnesses are taxing the hospital systems everywhere,” Free said.