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Coram’s COVID-19 treatment pilot program

May 19, 2021 | Pharmacy

A health care worker, wearing PPE, stares out the window.

How two Coram nurses and their colleagues came together to help patients in need, and one of their own

Over the past year, nurses have been asked to step up in ways many of us cannot even imagine. When the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked Coram to be their exclusive partner to deliver home and skilled nursing infusion treatments for the monoclonal antibody bamlanivimabBamlanivimab no longer has Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to be administered alone, but has EUA to be administered as a combination medication. to high-risk COVID-19 patients, Coram nurses sprinted into action.

In honor of Nurses' Month, we're pleased to share the stories of two Coram nurses who were involved in the bamlanivimab pilot program in very different ways — both of which highlight the compassion and courage that our nurses bring to their patients, and each other.

Kinwai Ng (Gary) based in Los Angeles, CA, hadn't worked with many COVID-19 patients until the pilot kicked off, but when it did, his work quickly became focused on the sickest of them. In the early days of the pilot, Gary often worked long hours for seven days straight to ensure patients could get treatment within the tight eligibility timeframe. Despite the risks of being in close proximity to COVID patients, Gary never worried.

"I felt confident going in and taking care of these patients," he explains. "You develop your routine of being extra careful, and it becomes part of your day."

In fact, it's what Gary finds most rewarding about his job — being face-to-face with patients. "Teaching patients and talking to families — I've always been very comfortable with that,” he said. "Sometimes there aren't enough touchpoints with the patient, so I take every opportunity to educate them. It makes me feel better that I could show them something new."

Marion Dillard, Manager of Nursing Operations, experienced the COVID-19 pandemic both from the corporate side at Coram, and as a patient. While attending the funeral of a dear friend in February, Marion interacted with someone who was COVID-positive, but had not yet been tested.

Although she was not directly involved in treating patients with COVID-19, Marion is very cautious due to several underlying conditions, so she always wears a mask and maintains social distance. Two days after the funeral, when she awoke with no sense of smell or taste, Marion immediately got tested and was diagnosed with COVID-19. By midday she was extremely ill and incapacitated in her home. "I was alone and on the floor. I knew I was in trouble," she says. "I was an ICU and trauma nurse before coming to Coram. I don't panic easily, but I knew this could be really ugly."

Marion knew that she could benefit from the bamlanivimab treatment. When the Coram team learned about Marion, they snapped into action before things got worse. Though she lives four hours from the nearest branch location, Marion said, her colleagues Joseph Owen, Debra Gross and Michelle MacDonald overcame logistical challenges and assigned a nurse, Cynthia (Cindy) Clark, to provide her infusion treatment later that week. Within 48 hours, she began to feel better. Without the infusion, Marion is certain that she would have been hospitalized at a minimum.

"I came to Coram because I wanted to make a difference. I saw a company that gave heart to the care they were providing. Allowing patients to remain in their homes is a gift to the patient and family,” she says. "I am so grateful that if I had to be ill, I was cared for by the company and the colleagues who I am so very proud of."