Samaritan reports success with specific COVID-19 treatment

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 3:59 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - There’s a COVID-19 treatment with a proven track record called monoclonal antibodies. Watertown’s Samaritan Medical Center has a makeshift unit solely focused on doling out doses.

Registered nurse Kelly Harrienger has donned protective gear many times to administer a specific kind of treatment to COVID-19 patients at Samaritan Medical Center.

“We’ve had people say, ‘It saved my life.’ We’ve had people say, ‘It’s amazing, I started feeling better that night,’” she said.

It’s an infusion of what’s called monoclonal antibodies, a one-time prescribed treatment that takes a little more than two hours.

Haley Reff received a dose last November.

“I was just hoping that this infusion, even though it was so new, would just do something to decrease my symptoms, even just the slightest. And it did way more than that,” said Reff.

Harrienger says the infusion helps COVID patients in different ways.

“It stops the progression of it and it also helps you get better quicker and keeps you out of the hospital,” she said.

Samaritan has some statistics to back that up. It administered more than 850 doses between the hospital and long term care facilities in 2021.

“We’ve been able to keep the readmission rate - so basically, those patients then coming back to the hospital for further inpatient care, we’ve kept that down to 3.4 percent,” said Leslie DiStefano, SMC spokesperson.

Harrienger’s work in the monoclonal infusion unit has grabbed some attention. Samaritan is honoring the RN with the Daisy Award, part of a national recognition program.

“So many patients comment about the wonderful job, the ease that she provides,” said DiStefano.

“I really feel like I’ve made a huge difference, as do the other people that work here. So, it’s really, really gratifying,” said Harrienger.

To help fight the omicron variant, there’s a new form of this treatment. But, that supply is limited and Samaritan is prioritizing which patients get that treatment based on guidelines from New York state.

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