HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Meritus Medical Center, a 300-bed acute-care hospital located in Washington County, has been leading the way in its field. It has given more monoclonal antibody therapies through IV infusion than any health care facility in the state through the recent surge of COVID-19, which began in early October.

Demand for the treatments has been the highest since the onset of the pandemic and the non-profit, community health system again finds itself offering the treatment to people who have traveled to the area to receive it. During last year’s surge of cases in the fall and winter, Meritus Health was also one of the highest treatment centers in the state of Maryland and surrounding areas.

Between Jan. 1, 2021, and Dec. 6 of this year, the Meritus Regional Infusion Center had given 3,019 therapies, 656 in November alone.

The therapy, offered with emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is associated with an estimated 56-percent lower risk of hospitalization or death within 28 days compared to no monoclonal antibody therapy.

“The data is so strong that for many patients with moderate-to-high risk factors for developing serious complications from COVID-19, monoclonal antibody therapy will prevent them from needing hospital care, or dying from the virus,” explains Carrie Adams, chief quality officer, Meritus Health. “We are in a health crisis and need to continue to use all the tools we can. This is one way to prevent patients from becoming seriously ill and also can help alleviate overwhelming numbers of patients needing hospital-level care.”

She shared that the independent health system, located in Western Maryland, continues to offer the therapy because it is saving lives; however, nearly 48 percent of the patients arriving to the infusion center are not from Washington County.

Patients have traveled from 13 Maryland counties to the Meritus Regional Infusion Center in Hagerstown, in addition to those from West Virginia and Pennsylvania, Adams says.

“We have continued to observe a major gap between the volume of patients who are eligible for this therapy and health providers offering the treatment,” Adams explains. “I continue to be so proud of the teams at Meritus Health who are optimizing our resources to continue to offer this life-saving medical therapy to those who need it most.”

As inpatient hospital volumes at Meritus Medical Center continue to surge, Adams says offering this therapy can not only mean better outcomes for patients, but will help alleviate the strain on hospital resources. As the number of people in Washington County testing positive for the virus continues to increase, she and her team are looking at ways to build additional capacity to be able to offer more infusion therapies each day.