Schneck seeing fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations with omicron variant


Despite ongoing challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, Schneck Medical Center in Seymour continues to move forward with its efforts to help people who contract the virus.

During Monday night’s Schneck board of trustees meeting, Dr. Eric Fish, president and chief executive officer of the hospital, said all 92 Indiana counties, including Jackson, remain at the red level based on the community spread and positivity rate of COVID-19. That’s the highest of the four levels.

On the plus side locally, Schneck isn’t seeing as many hospitalizations as prior surges of the virus, Fish said. The most recent number of inpatients is 16.

“Hopefully, that continues,” Fish said of the lower number of people hospitalized. “Sixteen inpatients with COVID is not elevated, but it’s still not the 30s like we saw with the initial surge back in 2020.”

Fish said Schneck has two big challenges right now related to COVID-19.

One is transferring people to long-term care facilities.

“A lot of holdup with prior authorizations from insurance companies to allow transfers, so we sit on a number of patients for a number of days who need to be transferred to long-term care facilities that are being held up due to insurance approval,” Fish said. “We’re working with the state on trying to get those approved and relieved.”

The other big challenge is changing to the new monoclonal antibody therapy, Sotrovimab, which has been shown to be the most effective antibody therapy to fight the omicron variant. That variant currently is making up 85% of all COVID-19 cases in Indiana.

Monoclonal antibody therapy is a pharmaceutical intervention used to treat people who are infected with the virus that causes COVID. The treatment can prevent severe illness, hospitalization and death in high-risk patients.

The federal government allocates a very small supply of Sotrovimab every week that’s distributed by each state. For Indiana, that’s approximately 1,000 doses. For Schneck, that’s now about 12 doses.

Fish said when Schneck was using Bamlanivimab for delta variant cases, it treated between 20 and 30 patients per day.

With Sotrovimab, the hospital has adopted the National Institutes of Health prioritization process due to the limited supply and upon the recommendation from the Indiana State Department of Health.

The highest priority is people who are immunocompromised, unvaccinated 75 or older or unvaccinated 65 or older with comorbidities. High priority is those unvaccinated at risk of severe disease. Moderate priority is those vaccinated 75 or older with comorbidities. Low priority is those vaccinated at risk of severe disease.

“That has obviously led to some frustration from patients, but it is truly a supply issue that we’re dealing with and really out of our control other than the data that we present to the state,” Fish said. “We continue to work through it, and hopefully, this omicron case surge will come down.”

Schneck continues to promote COVID-19 vaccines and boosters as the greatest prevention of progressing to severe disease, hospitalization or death.

Layered prevention strategies can slow the spread of the virus. Besides getting vaccinated and the booster shot, Schneck said people should wear masks in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status, stay home if they are not feeling well and wash their hands frequently.

The hospital is offering walk-in vaccine clinics from 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and from 8 to 10 a.m. Fridays in the Level 1 lobby of the Schneck Professional Building, 411 W. Tipton St., Seymour. The first, second and booster vaccines are offered for ages 5 and older. Children receiving the vaccine must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

For information, call the Schneck COVID Hotline at 812-524-4266.

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