BELOIT — Beloit Memorial Hospital reported a record number of admissions due to COVID-19 last week as new treatment options come online for health care providers to treat the area’s most ill patients, according to Beloit Health System CEO Tim McKevett.
McKevett said Tuesday that the health system had received a new anti-body drug, known as Bamlanivimad, along with the health system in queue for receiving another anti-body treatment from pharmaceutical company Regeneron.
“We’re excited about the additional therapeutics we have acquired and are set to acquire,” McKevett said. “We are fighting hard to make sure we have what we need so that our dedicated team can care for our community.”
The new treatments are aimed at those with pre-existing conditions and are over the age of 65.
McKevett said he expects vaccines to battle COVID-19 should be available to health care workers by the end of the year.
“I can’t thank our staff enough for their dedication and hard work,” McKevett said. “We are prepared for when the time comes and we feel it’s a positive sign that the target release date remains the end of this year and into early 2021.”
Last week the hospital reported 31 admissions due to COVID-19, with that figure currently down to 27 as of Tuesday. Beloit Memorial Hospital has seen 325 COVID-19 related hospitalizations since March, McKevett added.
The health system has created additional spaces for patients adjacent to the emergency department, bringing the health system’s capacity up to around 40 available spaces for COVID-19 treatment.
“That (capacity) could go higher, but we would have to convert other wings of the hospital and hopefully we won’t have to do that and will continue to see a trending down in terms of more discharges,” McKevett said.
Both McKevett and City of Beloit Director of Strategic Communications Sarah Lock urged residents to avoid traveling to meet with extended family over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“We see the severity of this illness on a daily basis and how serious it can be,” McKevett said. “We understand the importance of mental health and seeing family. We urge everyone to keep physical distancing and masking even if you are planning on seeing loved ones outside of your immediate family.”
McKevett said the Beloit hospital has transferred COVID-19 patients to other hospitals and the Beloit hospital has received transferred patients from other hospitals. He noted the transfers have more to do with available staff rather than available space for patients.
He said the health system is working in partnership with health care authorities in Madison, Janesville and Rockford for accepting and requesting transfers of COVID-19 patients. As of Tuesday, 15 hospital staff are on quarantine due to COVID-19, down from 20 last week as more staff return to the front lines to fight the virus.
In the event that the local health care infrastructure is overwhelmed by the virus, McKevett said the state was investigating a potential alternate care site similar to what is in place at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, but stressed that was in the planning and evaluation phase.
Lock said the City of Beloit recently found that three more city employees had tested positive for COVID-19. That brings the total number of city employees who have tested positive for the virus since March to 29.