By Emily Banks Wooten
The state-supported Polk County Regional Infusion Center to help treat COVID-19 patients in East Texas opened Monday afternoon at the Dunbar Gym at 1103 N. Dunbar Ave. in Livingston and patients are already receiving treatment.
The center’s hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Medical professionals will be able to administer a monoclonal antibody treatment to approximately 30 patients per day. The infusions are meant for COVID-19 patients who are not yet hospitalized or on oxygen supplements. The infusion center includes personnel, equipment, supplies and wraparound services for a five-chair regional infusion center.
The treatment is available at no cost to patients. Patients must be confirmed COVID-19 positive and have a referral from a primary care physician. The referral form is on the Polk County Emergency Management website which is www.polkcountyoem.com.
Patients who do not have a primary care physician and are confirmed COVID-19 positive may contact the infusion call center for further information. The local telephone number is 936-327-7655 and the toll-free telephone number is 866-480-POLK (7655).
This infusion center, equipped with Regeneron’s monoclonal antibodies, will treat COVID-19 patients with therapeutic drugs that can prevent their condition from worsening and requiring hospital care. The center also increases bed capacity in hospitals for the most ill patients. The state deployed similar measures back in November 2020 to communities across Texas.
To be eligible for the medication patients:
Must not be hospitalized or require oxygen therapy;
Must not require an increase in oxygen rate due to COVID-19 if using for underlying comorbidity; and
Must be within 10 days of symptom onset.
An additional resource for treating COVID-19 patients, the center was opened through a partnership between the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), Polk County, CHI St. Luke’s Memorial-Livingston and the Polk County Office of Emergency Management.
A press conference to announce the opening of the Polk County Regional Infusion Center was held Monday morning at CHI St. Luke’s Memorial-Livingston.
“We believe this monoclonal antibody infusion center will ease the burden on our hospital and ER and the taxing of our emergency medical resources by reducing hospitalizations and deaths. The infusion center in Polk County will also provide an additional resource to surrounding rural counties with limited resources and prevent further deterioration and taxing of rural healthcare systems,” Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy said.
“Polk County appreciates the state’s quick response to our request and the partnership that we have with the Texas Division of Emergency Management and CHI St. Luke’s Memorial-Livingston. My thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected by COVID-19 and those who are battling this disease. I want to say a resounding thank you to CHI, doctors, nurses and medical personnel in the county and across the state for what you have done to save lives during this pandemic,” Murphy said.
At Governor Greg Abbott’s direction, TDEM contracted with a private vendor who will provide necessary equipment and staffing resources to ensure the center is fully operational. Polk County is providing facilities for the infusion center and infusion call center.
The Polk County Regional Infusion Center in Livingston is the 16th state-supported center operational in Texas.