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NY Catholic health system participating in coronavirus treatment trials

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CNA Staff, Apr 16, 2020 / 11:57 am (CNA).- Catholic Health Services of Long Island is taking part in two Mayo Clinic trials designed to develop treatments for the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Our clinical teams have spent several weeks caring for COVID-19 patients. It means a great deal to everyone to take part in these two cutting-edge research efforts,” Jason Golbin, CHS Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer, said in an April 15 release.

The first of the trials involves treatments using convalescent plasma, taken from the blood of people who have had COVID-19 and recovered. That trial is taking place at all of CHS’ six hospitals.

The plasma can be administered only to a consenting COVID-19 patient, or a patient whose family member offers consent, CHS says, and will be given to those patients judged by a physician to be at high risk of disease progression to severe or life-threatening.

Patients who recover from COVID-19 do so in part because of antibodies in their blood, and initial data from the studies show the plasma treatments as “a benefit for some patients, leading to improvement,” CHS says.

The second trial, CHS says, involves using the medication remdesivir, which was developed to treat the Ebola virus and has been shown to be safe for use in humans.

Three of CHS’ hospitals— St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center, and Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center— are taking part in that trial.

Remdesivir has been successfully used to treat other coronaviruses in the past, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, as well as some of the viruses behind the common cold, Scientific American reports.

The remdesivir treatment regimen lasts ten days. Remdesivir must be given intravenously, so patients can only get it in a hospital, Scientific American reports.

CHS says the use of the drug follows limited testing in the United States, Canada, China, and elsewhere that led to an improvement in the condition of some patients with the coronavirus.

Some 2 million people worldwide are confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, with nearly 140,000 deaths reported.

New York is the hardest hit state in terms of the total number of infections, with nearly 214,000 confirmed cases.

In response to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for hospitals to prepare for a surge of cases in New York, a former Catholic nursing home near Buffalo opened April 14 as a rehabilitation center for coronavirus patients who have been discharged from Catholic hospitals but are not yet ready to return home.

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