Published on September 10, 2021

Johnston Health partners with Benson Health to open monoclonal antibodies clinic

Stand Up Antibodies Clinic in BensonPatients who test positive for COVID-19 now have a new treatment option in the Benson area. On Wednesday, a stand-up clinic next door to Benson Health, a primary-care practice, began administering Regeneron’s monoclonal antibodies, which can lessen the severity of COVID symptoms and thus reduce the risk of hospitalization.

Ruth Marler, chief nursing officer/chief operating officer for Johnston Health, led the effort to get the clinic up and running, and two nurses and a paramedic from Johnston Health are administering the injections from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Last week, about 38 percent of COVID-19 test results at the primary care practice were positive, she said. “So the need is urgent.”

“Benson Health is very much a community-based practice, and its CEO William Massengill and clinical supervisor Ashley Luckett, RN, really wanted to do this for their patients,” Marler added. “We’re thrilled and humbled to be able to partner with them to provide this valuable treatment to save lives.”

While the vaccine is certainly the best way to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19, the best treatment for patients stricken with the disease are monoclonal antibodies, Marler says. “We want to do all that we can to prevent hospitalizations from this terrible disease, which can have devastating, long-terms effects on patients and their families.”

Regeneron's treatment, called REGN-COV2, is a combination of two types of monoclonal antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies work by targeting the coronavirus spike protein, blocking the virus from entering the body's cells, and stopping the infection from spreading. At the clinic, the patients scheduled for treatment will receive four shots of the antibodies and be asked to stay for an hour-long observation.

Since the surge of the more contagious delta variant this summer, Johnston Health has seen its COVID-19 hospital admissions soar, from a low of four in mid-July to as many as 75 in August. For the past several weeks, both hospitals in Smithfield and Clayton have been at full capacity. The latest numbers show that 90 percent of those COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

At the clinic, registered nurses Michelle Bradley and Lindsey Tart, and paramedic Mitch King, are seeing patients inside an air-conditioned tent. Starting Monday, they will use the new Johnston Health Mobile Outreach Unit. The unit, which arrived Wednesday morning, is an initiative of Johnston Health and its partners to bring services to underserved communities.

To schedule a COVID-19 test or the Regeneron injections, call Benson Health at 919-894-2011.

Pictured: Johnston Health is partnering with Benson Health to operate a clinic for administering monoclonal antibodies. From left are: Michelle Bradley, RN,  chest pain coordinator; Ashley Luckett, RN, clinical supervisor at Benson Health; Lindsey Tart, RN, stroke accreditation specialist; and Mitch King, paramedic, cancer accreditation specialist; Tom Williams, CEO & president of Johnston Health; William W. Massengill Jr., CEO of Benson Health; and Lori Martin, director of education for Johnston Health. 

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