SIOUX FALLS (KELO) — Hospitals across KELOLAND aren’t just dealing with shortages of beds and staffing caused by the omicron variant. Now they’re trying to stretch a limited supply of treatments as far as possible during this surge.
The shortage involves COVID therapies such as monoclonal antibodies and oral anti-virals. So hospitals in KELOLAND are being selective about who gets the treatments. High risk patients receive top priority.
Avera Health’s Chief Medical and Innovations Officer has a blunt assessment of the current availability of treatments for patients showing symptoms of COVID-19.
“We do not have adequate supplies of monoclonal antibodies or oral anti-virals to meet the need, nor does anyone else in the country,” Avera Chief Medical & Innovations Officer Dr. David Erickson said.
Because of that shortage, patients who are at high-risk of hospitalization get priority for monoclonals and anti-virals. Lower-risk patients may receive non-COVID therapies for viral infections.
“It’s a difficult conversation. It adds a little bit of stress, I think, to our health care providers because obviously, we want to take care of all of our patients. I think there are conversations about risk and that the risk for some of these patients is relatively low,” Sanford Health Executive Director of Pharmacy Jesse Breidenbach said.
Physicians say it may be weeks before the supply of therapies gets replenished.
“I think over time, hopefully, it will get better as the manufacturing comes online, they’re able to make more and we have more available. It certainly will be a big help. But unfortunately, I don’t see any increase in supplies in the next four to six weeks as we deal with the omicron surge,” Erickson said.
While the shortage will persist in the short-term, health care experts say it underscores the importance for everyone to get vaccinated and boosted.
“And there’s plenty of vaccine to be had out there still, so if you’re not vaccinated, please get vaccinated,” Breidenbach said.
Patients who get priority for the COVID treatments include those who are over 65, or are obese, or pregnant or have pre-existing conditions including kidney and cardiovascular disease or diabetes.