Infusion center to open in Waco to treat people with COVID

A regional monoclonal antibody infusion center to treat COVID-19 patients will open in Waco Tuesday, Sept. 28. Treatment is available at no cost to patients who have tested positive with the virus and are referred by a primary care physician.

The Waco center will serve Central Texas. The drugs may prevent a person’s condition from worsening and requiring hospital care, according to a release from the City of Waco. “These centers also help increase bed capacity in hospitals so that resources are available for the most ill patients.”

The infusion center will provide monoclonal antibody treatment for outpatient cases of COVID-19 who have a referral from a doctor, a release from the State of Texas said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization in November 2020 for “monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adult and pediatric patients. Bamlanivimab is authorized for patients with positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 viral testing who are 12 years of age and older weighing at least 40 kilograms (about 88 pounds), and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. This includes those who are 65 years of age or older, or who have certain chronic medical conditions.

“While the safety and effectiveness of this investigational therapy continues to be evaluated, bamlanivimab was shown in clinical trials to reduce COVID-19-related hospitalization or emergency room visits in patients at high risk for disease progression within 28 days after treatment when compared to placebo.”

The location of the infusion center is unclear in both the City and State releases. The center is “located at site provided by Texas State Technical College. The facility will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday-Friday. The infusions are meant for COVID-19 patients who are not yet hospitalized or on oxygen supplements,” the City release says.

At Gov. Greg Abbott’s direction, Texas Division of Emergency Management contracted with a private vendor and will provide necessary equipment and staffing resources to ensure the center is fully operational. Texas State Technical College is providing the facility. Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Hillcrest is providing the therapeutic drugs.

TDEM is opening the center in partnership with the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Hillcrest, Texas State Technical College, the Waco-McLennan County Office of Emergency Management, the City of Waco, and McLennan County.

“We are grateful to the State and our community partners for bringing this invaluable weapon in our fight against COVID-19 to our community,”  said McLennan County Judge Scott Felton.

Waco Mayor Dillon Meek said: “We are glad to partner with the State to bring this important resource to our community. Our local hospitals have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 and this infusion therapy has the potential to reduce hospitalizations by treating individuals before their illness progresses. The City of Waco is committed to working strategically and proactively in responding to the pandemic by doing community minded work such as this.” 

Patients are eligible for the medication when:

  • Patient must NOT be hospitalized or require oxygen therapy.
  • Patient must NOT require an increase in oxygen rate due to COVID-19 if using for underlying comorbidity.
  • Patient MUST be within 10 days of symptom onset

Patients without insurance or a primary care physician are encouraged to call the infusion center for additional information. Patients can contact the infusion center by calling (254) 867-2005 or email: [email protected].

Texans can call 1-800-742-5990 to find the nearest infusion center.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].