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Local doctor discusses COVID-19 treatment options

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 9:02 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - As COVID-19 continues its surge throughout the Shenandoah Valley, medical staff are working hard to keep up with their patients’ needs.

Dr. Russ Ford, Sentara RMH’s Lead Hospitalist, said COVID-19 is hard to treat because of the way it interacts with the body.

“This virus is quite unusual in that it causes our body to produce abnormal immune response to the infection, so it’s almost an overwhelming inflammation,” said Ford.

Because of that inflammation, he said anti-inflammation medicines are very important.

“The most common drugs that we have that helps are the anti-inflammatory steroids. They’re the cornerstone of what we do,” Ford said.

COVID-19 can also cause blood clots, so they have to treat that.

“Anywhere our blood goes, we can have abnormal clotting, so that’s one of the things we screen for early in the emergency department or shortly after a person comes into the hospital,” Ford said.

Ford said there are many treatment options, like monoclonal antibodies, for mild to moderate cases of COVID. He said the antibodies will cling to the virus so it can’t attack human cells.

“They’re primarily used in the outpatient setting before a person becomes sick enough to come to the hospital,” Ford said.

On top of antibody treatments, Remdesivir is another treatment used for less severe cases.

“Remdesivir, which is an IV product, that seems to help if it’s an early infection that still is on the mild to moderate side, that helps,” he said.

He said, in some settings, doses of Vitamin C have proven to be helpful. Overall, Ford said doctors have learned a lot during the pandemic.

“We have reasonably affective treatments. If you go back a year and a half ago, a lot of people who came to the hospital ended up on ventilators. Now that we know how to try to cut down on the intense inflammation, particularly on the lungs, less and less people need to go on ventilators,” he said.

Ford said the average hospital stay if no ventilator is required for COVID is eight days.

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