Phoebe: COVID deaths increase; treatment expanding

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Following an increase in COVID-19 related deaths, Phoebe Putney Health System is expanding its ability to give treatments to better battle the coronavirus.

As of Tuesday morning, these were Phoebe’s COVID-19 numbers:

  • Total COVID-19 patients in Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital – 148
  • Total COVID-19 patients in Phoebe Sumter Medical Center – 31
  • Total COVID-19 patients in Phoebe Worth Medical Center – 4
  • Total inpatients recovered – 2,712
  • Total positive deaths from Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital – 324
  • Total positive deaths from Phoebe Sumter – 80
  • Total vaccines administered – 60,720

“We learned early in the pandemic that a spike in COVID hospitalizations is typically followed by a spike in deaths, two to three weeks later. Unfortunately, that is what we are seeing now. Just since Friday, we have lost 24 patients, including nine yesterday. We grieve with these families, and we ask our community to keep them and our care teams in your prayers,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System president and CEO.

Phoebe: COVID deaths increase; treatment expanding
Phoebe Putney Health System CEO and President, Scott Steiner.(Source: WALB)

“We continue to be in the midst of a dangerous COVID surge. We should all be taking steps to minimize the spread — getting vaccinated, wearing masks and avoiding close contact with others. Anyone who does test positive should self-isolate to prevent spreading the virus and consider receiving monoclonal antibody therapy.”

This week, Phoebe work crews are installing a temporary COVID advanced care clinic across the street from Phoebe’s main emergency center and adjacent to the Community Care Clinic. Once the modular units are ready in a few days, they’ll be used as an additional location for monoclonal antibody infusion therapy, according to the hospital system.

Phoebe is also exploring options for a temporary COVID advanced care clinic at Phoebe Sumter to serve the Americus area.

“Since January, we have provided this treatment to around 1,400 COVID patients, and 98% of them have avoided hospitalization for COVID,” said Dr. Dianna Grant, Phoebe Putney Health System chief medical officer. “We still want people to get vaccinated to try to avoid contracting the virus, but this treatment is doing a great job at preventing serious illness among those who do get COVID, whether they’ve been vaccinated or not.”

Phoebe: COVID deaths increase; treatment expanding
Clayton and Marsha Powell receiving treatment at Phoebe North. (PPMH)

From Phoebe about the monoclonal antibody therapy:

The hospital system said Clayton and Marsha Powell received the treatment Friday at Phoebe North. The Camilla couple both started feeling bad last Tuesday.

“By Wednesday, we had full-on symptoms of headache and coughing and congestion,” Marsha said.

After receiving positive tests, they were able to quickly schedule appointments for the antibody therapy.

“The nurse in here has been great — feel like home folks already,” Clayton said. “They just walked us right through it, and everything has been good.”

Within 24 hours, the hospital system said they were both feeling better.

“We are so glad that we got in there so quick and got the infusion that made us feel so much better, mentally and physically,” Marsha said Tuesday. “Our main symptom now is just a little weakness, but we are on the mend. Clayton cut the grass yesterday, and we’re picking okra and putting up okra today. We’re doing a lot better.”

The Powells also have a message for all the healthcare workers caring for COVID patients as the pandemic drags on.

“I do want to thank the nurses at Phoebe. They put their lives on the line every day for patients like us that have come down with positive tests. It’s scary. I know it’s scary to them, but they just come and do a great job,” Marsha said.

Patients with a positive COVID test can be referred for the monoclonal antibody infusion treatment by a physician, or they can begin a self-referral process by calling (229) 312-MYMD. That’s the same phone number people can use to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at Phoebe facilities.

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