GMH gets more COVID treatment options including plasma transfusion

Guam Memorial Hospital administrator Lillian Perez-Posadas. (PNC file photo)

GMH is beefing up its COVID-treatment options during the island’s fight against the so-called invisible enemy.

The hospital now has two drug-based treatments and one using plasma.

GMH received 50 doses of a monoclonal antibody from the federal government and started administering the drug on Friday.

Lillian Perez-Posadas, the hospital’s administrator, says they gave 25 doses to GRMC and kept 25. Of their amount, GMH has so far administered 4 antibody I-Vs.

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“It may not be a visible sign of improvement but maybe internally, if they draw some blood samples to see the infection process, maybe that would be the telling tale. And, if the individuals are not manifesting symptoms of COVID then that’s another tell-tale,” Perez-Posadas said.

That medicine is called Bamlanivimab and is an Eli Lilly pharmaceutical product.

It’s meant for outpatients, who’ve tested positive within 10 days and are not yet having severe symptoms but have a medical vulnerability which could cause them to become acutely sick and need hospitalization eventually.

This antibody gives them more strength to fight off the infection themselves.

“So we give them that antibody to mitigate that and prevent them from going over that cliff and then they go home, or they go to the isolation facility. And when they go home, they still need to continue isolation because remember, they still tested positive,” Perez-Posadas said.

A second medical treatment at the hospital now is the Remdesivir and Decadron combination.

That two-drug combo is for people who’ve tested positive for any length of time and are showing severe or acute symptoms. They’re typically already hospitalized.

“Decadron has been around for many years. It’s a steroid, used primarily for people with respiratory conditions and those also who have cerebral edema. When the brain swells up, the Decadron reduces that swelling,” Perez-Posadas said.

Perez-Posadas says the third treatment option for COVID patients is a plasma transfusion option. She says that’s for patients who don’t fit the profile for the Remdesivir and Decadron combination.

“That’s a transfusion of the plasma fluid of individuals who have had COVID and have recovered and built their antibodies. So they donate their blood and the lab separates their red blood cells from the plasma. And that plasma is what we then transfuse into the patients with COVID to give them a boost of their antibodies,” Perez-Posadas said.

The COVID patient count at GMH has been on a steady decline in recent days and Perez-Posadas says even with the treatment options, she’s holding her breath for Thanksgiving, hoping the island doesn’t face another surge.