MILWAUKEE — The Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park is playing a new, additional role in the fight against COVID-19.
Governor Tony Evers and Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services confirming Friday, a section of the facility will soon offer a new outpatient coronavirus infusion treatment. It will be available starting Tuesday.
As we wait - possibly months - for large-scale distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, doctors say this new infusion treatment is a game-changer in trying to keep more people healthy and alive.
“It’s given to patients who are at least 16-years-old, who are more at risk for COVID-19 to severely progress,” said Dr. Brad Burmeister, a member of the Wisconsin Medical Society COVID-19 Task Force and emergency room doctor in Green Bay.
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It’s called Bamlanivimad, or Bam Bam for short. It’s a one-time IV treatment that doctors estimates takes about an hour to administer to a patient. The best candidates to receive it are those who just tested positive for COVID-19 and are beginning to experience symptoms.
“The aim is really to give the immune system a jump as a bridge until a person’s own antibodies kick-in to fight off COVID 19,” said Dr. Aimee Becker with UW Health System. “It is an outpatient treatment only. It's not for hospitalized patients, or those experiencing severe respiratory issues. The goal is to get it to the high-risk people to avoid hospitalization so they're less sick, and don't end up in the hospital.”
“It’s most effective when we can administer it as soon as possible after someone is first diagnosed with COVID-19,” said Dr. Burmeister, who points to clinical trials that show people treated with Bamlanivimad were less likely to ever require hospitalization for COVID-19.
Doctors say it’s very similar to the infusion treatment President Donald Trump received when he battled coronavirus. It’s a different manufacturer.
Wisconsin health care providers first received some shipments of Bamlanivimad around Thanksgiving. Many say having the treatment available at the Alternate Care Facility is a big step.
“Not as many people have been receiving it as we would like,” said Dr. Burmeister. “There are more people who are candidates for it, who for whatever reason, are not getting access to it. Having more access through State Fair Park is a great way to increase the likelihood that people will receive it.”
“Having it nearby is really great for us,” said Dr. Ben Weston, Milwaukee County’s Emergency Management Medical Director. “It’s going to make this infusion treatment lot more available to a lot more people, and that’s a really good thing. It’s another coat of armor to fight this virus.”
But you can’t just show up at State Fair Park’s Alternate Care Facility to receive the infusion treatment. You must have a referral from a doctor or hospital.
Anyone can call UW Health System’s hotline at 608-720-3319 to ask if you may be a good candidate for Bamlanivimad, and potentially get a referral to receive it.