GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Doctors say the latest COVID-19 surge will last several more days, if not weeks and area intensive care units are jammed.
Channel 2′s Tony Thomas has learned that some doctors are facing another potential hurdle: a shortage of a drug used to ease COVID-19 symptoms.
That drug is Regeneron. The supply is good right now, but doctors question how long that will last.
Currently, 200 COVID-19 patients are being treated at Northeast Georgia Medical Center. Ventilators and ICU beds are in high demand and nurses are stressed to the max.
”When you walk through this hallway, what goes through your mind?” Thomas asked critical care nurse Nikkie Kimble, as they toured the hospital.
“You know, it’s a mixture of feelings,” Kimble said.
Kimble said she’s proud of the work the doctors and nurses have been doing, but is sad, very sad, for the community.
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”With each wave, we say, ‘Oh, it can’t get much worse than this,’” Kimble said.
And things are expected to get worse.
The staff at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and at six sister facilities are treating 333 COVID-19 patients right now. Almost all the ICU beds are in use and nearly 83% of the available ventilators are taken.
”We are watching that situation very closely,” said Dr. Deepak Aggarwal, chief of medicine at Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
Aggarwal told Thomas that patient count is expected to surge to at least the mid-400s in the coming days.
Those predictions were before the hospital realized its latest challenge: a seemingly dwindling supply of Regeneron, the monoclonal antibodies that are infused into early COVID-19 patients to stop the infection.
“We have a shortage of Regeneron, it’s a supply issue,” Aggarwal said. “Right now we are adequate, but again I think our criteria of how to give Regeneron is what we will have to modify.”
As for Kimble, she’s hanging on and trying to help her patients do the same.
”I hope this is the last time we say it can’t get worse. I hope it’s the last time,” Kimble said.
Thomas contacted the city of Dalton, which has a drive-thru Regeneron facility set up. They say they haven’t seen any drop in their supply so far.
Doctors at Northeast Georgia Medical Center hope this is just a blip in the supply chain.
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