Tuesday, August 11, 2020 3:58 PM

  • Post category:News

Community Regional Medical Centers’ Chief Medical & Quality Officer, Dr. Jeffrey Thomas, gives an update on what we know about COVID-19 and where we stand as a health system on treatment options.

Because COVID-19 is a novel (new) virus, we still have a lot to learn about it. We continue to look to scientific, evidence-based research as it is completed and released to provide the best treatment options available to our patients.

At this point, current literature shows that dexamethasone (a steroid) is our best therapy for managing COVID-19, due to its proven ability to control lung injury caused by inflammation and reduce progression into respiratory failure. It’s a relatively inexpensive drug, but as hospitals across the nation increase their orders – supply is becoming scarce.

Remdesivir is an antiviral medication being tested as a specific treatment for COVID-19, and has been authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hospitalized patients with severe symptoms. This is the only drug that targets the virus specifically – all other medications treat the symptoms caused by the virus. Supplies of remdesivir are very limited and we receive some supply through Fresno County and the federal government, but our goal is to be able to treat all patients who are candidates for remdesivir with that medication.

Convalescent plasma has also been approved by the FDA and is seen as a safe supplemental therapy, but at this time, there isn’t enough scientific studies to show a clear benefit.

Locally, the Central California Blood Center has implemented new protocols to meet the FDA’s criteria for safety and efficacy required for pathogen-reduced COVID-19 convalescent plasma and is accepting donations from qualified donors. If you’ve recovered from COVID-19 and want to find out if you’re a candidate to donate, please contact the Central California Blood Center’s Convalescent Plasma Program.

Early in the battle to treat patients infected with this coronavirus, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) alone, or in combination with azithromycin, was thought to be effective based on observational studies. But at this time, medical research has indicated that there could be complications associated with this medication. Based on the evidence and research available at this time, we are restricting the use of HCQ amongst our doctors to those patients that are involved in a clinical trial.

As this pandemic evolves, our goal is to provide the most effective and safest treatments for our patients, utilizing best practices. If you’re feeling sick, we encourage you to contact your primary care provider. Our team of medical professionals strive to put their best foot forward every day, and the best way the public can help is to continue to wash their hands, wear a mask in public spaces, stay away from those that are ill and avoid large public gatherings.
These are truly unprecedented times but if we all do our part to stay safe and stay healthy, we know we can overcome this pandemic together.

For more information about the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on our hospital system, visit communitymedical.org/coronavirus.