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Potentially Life Saving COVID-19 Therapy Not Being Fully Taken Advantage Of

A nurse (center) gets the monoclonal antibody treatment ready for 14-year-old...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: A nurse (center) gets the monoclonal antibody treatment ready for 14-year-old Leslie Hernandez (right) who went in for the therapy after she, her mom (left), dad and grandmother contracted the virus, May 7, 2021.

A treatment proven to reduce hospitalizations and illness in those infected with COVID-19 is being offered in San Diego but is not being fully taken advantage of.

The monoclonal antibody treatment is simple and fast, requiring just one visit to deliver proteins that attack the virus, according to said Pauline Lucatero, director of nursing at Family Health Centers of San Diego.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

"The key is to get everyone treated — there shouldn't be any reason for any patients to get admitted to hospitals if we have this drug for them," Lucatero said.

"It takes about 30 minutes to infuse and we observe for about an hour just to make sure there’s no allergic reactions and if they do we’re prepared for that," Lucatero said.

Since December around 250 people have come in for the antibody treatment just at Family Health Centers between its Chula Vista and Hillcrest locations, but they can do much more than that. The therapy is also being offered free for those who do not have health insurance.

"We really just designed this to be as accessible to patients and to others as much as possible," Lucatero said.

RELATED: County Expanding Access To COVID-19 Therapy Proven To Reduce Illness

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Roland Lizarondo

Encanto resident Olga Villanueva received the treatment after testing positive for COVID-19.

"It was good — I didn’t feel anything," she said, speaking in Spanish. Villanueva said Family Health Centers contacted her about the treatment shortly after getting her positive test results.

"I feel good, but I mean I took it precisely to prevent a much worse disease," she said while receiving the treatment in Chula Vista.

Lucatero said the treatment is designed for those most at risk and it can be used in kids as young as 12.

Leslie Hernandez, 14, went in for the therapy after she and her mom, dad and grandmother contracted the virus. So far she has had mild symptoms including a sore throat and some headaches but said the treatment has really helped her mom.

"She’s OK now, she doesn’t really have any [symptoms] she’s way better than last week," Hernandez said while lying upright receiving the treatment via an IV.

The treatment is designed to be used within 10 days of a positive test. It is also being offered at Palomar Health and San Ysidro Health.

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Aired: May 12, 2021 | Transcript

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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