DENVER, Colorado — Members of the U.S. military are helping Denver Health treat more Coloradans with COVID-19. The team was deployed to a Federico F. Pena Southwest Urgent Care clinic to give patients monoclonal antibodies.
Monoclonal antibody treatments can reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are at risk of getting very sick.
The clinic for monoclonal antibodies at Federico F. Pena Southwest Urgent Care has been open for a year, but this team of military medical personnel started working there last week.
"The State of Colorado requested FEMA support and so Travis Air Force Base stepped up and sent some bodies to fulfill that mission," said First Lieutenant Zach Bingham, a clinical nurse.
First Lieutenant Bingham usually serves in California for the U.S. Air Force. Now a five-member team from the U.S. Air Force is on a mission in Colorado to help patients get this treatment and fight the virus. Members of the U.S. Army are also helping with logistics at the clinic.
"It is nice to support the mission of the United States and do something that shown effective and helps people ease their recovery when they have COVID-19," he said.
Denver Health is the only hospital in the state where the U.S. military is helping with antibody infusions. Another team of active-duty members is fully integrated into Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins to help doctors, nurses and respiratory technicians.
"There's certainly been times over the course of the last year where access to the monoclonal antibody itself has been a challenge but really it is a staffing issue for us," said Dr. Lindsey Fish, the medical director of Federico F. Pena Southwest Urgent Care Clinic at Denver Health.
There's been a large push to get more people this treatment. Adults and kids of all ages may be able to receive monoclonal antibody treatment. People at risk of getting very sick include those who are 65 and older, overweight and who have underlying medical conditions.
"This is the only treatment outside of the hospital for COVID-19," said Dr. Fish. "It is a fantastic treatment. Patients who receive it show four fewer days of symptoms and we see a 70 to 80 percent reduction in hospitalizations."
Denver Health is excited to have help from the Department of Defense to expand access to monoclonal antibodies. This effort to bring in more resources is sponsored by the state.
Additional staffing at the monoclonal antibody treatment clinic allows Denver Health to reach two to five times as many patients.
"The latest estimates out of the CDPHE, the state public health department, is if everyone who qualified for monoclonal antibody was getting monoclonal antibody we would reduce hospitalizations by 2,600 and 200 deaths by the end of January alone," said Dr. Fish.
The U.S. military members plan to work at Denver Health for at least 30 days and they can discuss at that point if they want to extend the help to 60 days.
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