This page was last updated on 4/26/2021 at 2:18 PM.

The virus that causes COVID-19 infection impacts each person differently, and the effectiveness of treatment options also differs from person to person. Rest assured, you or your loved ones will receive the treatment option that may work best for you. At Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN), we are committed to providing our patients and community with the best possible care and treatments. Our research scientists are integrated with our clinical departments for a comprehensive, collaborative approach to research, including COVID-19 clinical trials.

Some COVID-19 treatments administered at LVHN

Remdesivir

LVHN hospitals are using the antiviral medication, remdesivir, to treat hospitalized patients who have COVID-19. Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Cedar Crest, LVH–Muhlenberg and LVH–Hazleton received the drug through the Pennsylvania Department of Health as part of a federal distribution.

Remdesivir is given to a patient through an IV once per day for at least five days. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), remdesivir may help to decrease the amount of coronavirus in a person’s body, which may help them get better faster.

According to Timothy Friel, MD, Chair, LVHN Department of Medicine, it is the first antiviral medication that has been associated with a faster recovery time in infected COVID-19 patients enrolled in an international randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial.

Convalescent plasma

When people become infected with COVID-19, their immune system creates antibodies to fight the virus. Those who have completely recovered from COVID-19 may have immune-boosting antibodies in their plasma – called “convalescent plasma”– that could be used to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients. This provides a boost to the immune system of the sick patient and may help speed the recovery process.

Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone is a steroid or an anti-inflammatory drug that can be given intravenously or orally. It helps to minimize the impact of the coronavirus on the lungs and the body. Dexamethasone has been clinically shown to reduce mortality from COVID-19.

Selinexor 

Selinexor is currently approved at higher doses by the FDA as a treatment for patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma (cancer of white blood cells). Selinexor is what’s known as a selective inhibitor of nuclear transport, or SINE, in cells. It’s been shown that COVID-19’s ability to replicate is impaired when nuclear transport is blocked. Animal models suggest some significant reduction in viral replication.

Bamlanivimab, a monoclonal antibody

Antibodies are proteins directed against something the immune system recognizes as an infection or “foreign” to the body. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins made in a laboratory that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off a harmful infection. Bamlanivimab is a monoclonal antibody.

This medication provides a key ingredient in the immune system’s fight against infection. The antibody attaches to the virus and prevents it from entering healthy cells. Ideally, the administration of this medication also jump-starts the immune system’s response to the infection.

People who are good candidates for bamlanivimab have mild symptoms but are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 infection. High-risk criteria include being obese with a body mass index of 35 or more; having chronic kidney disease, diabetes or an immunosuppressive disease; taking a medication that suppresses the immune system; or being age 65 or older. Bamlanivimab is not used with patients who are hospitalized with severe COVID-19 infection.

Remote patient monitoring for COVID-19 patients

CARES for COVID-19

CARES Remote Patient Monitoring is a remote patient monitoring program. Each person in the program receives a customized kit with tools to record blood oxygen levels and temperature. CARES patients log in to MyLVHN, the LVHN patient portal, to record those data points and answer questions about their symptoms twice a day. Information is reviewed by a nurse on the LVHN CARES team. If needed, the nurse will reach out to discuss the patient’s condition or provide the information to a physician for further review. This service is available to patients throughout the health network.

LVHN@Home

LVHN@Home combines home nurse visits, virtual physician visits and enhanced remote monitoring to help more patients with COVID-19 recover at home. This program is available to people who live in Lehigh or Northampton counties as well as certain areas in Berks and Carbon counties. 

If you come to the emergency room, physicians will determine next steps in care. If hospital services aren't required, but you could benefit from enhanced monitoring while you are ill and recovering, that can now be done from the comfort of your own home through LVHN@Home, saving you the costs associated with a hospital stay.

Patients who participate receive a customized kit like with the CARES program, however LVHN@Home kits include items like a pulse oximeter, blood pressure cuff and thermometer, all with the technology to automatically submit data to LVHN. Patients use these items twice a day. Nurses review each patient’s data and can identify issues to prevent hospitalizations. A Lehigh Valley Home Care nurse either comes to the patient’s house or meets with the patient virtually each day. Patients also have access to speak with a nurse anytime, day or night.

Post-COVID outpatient rehabilitation program

Recovering from COVID-19 is a process that can take months. As many as 30 percent of adults and children with COVID-19 have been diagnosed with Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID (PASC) or what doctors are calling long-COVID.

LVHN offers outpatient rehabilitation for patients who suffer from long-COVID, which is diagnosed when patients suffer from chronic symptoms beyond four weeks. These people are often referred to as long-haulers. Some of the most common symptoms people experience are shortness of breath, cognitive issues or “brain fog”, muscle weakness and chronic fatigue.

The goal of the post-COVID rehabilitation program is to address issues that persist after recovery like decreased strength, balance, endurance, cognition and respiratory muscle retraining. Individualized treatment plans are made in conjunction with the referring physician with input from the patient.

Post-Covid rehabilitation is offered at all 50 LVHN outpatient rehabilitation service locations. For more information on post-COVID rehabilitation, visit LVHN.org/rehab.

Donation of convalescent plasma for the treatment of other patients with COVID-19

Have you recovered from COVID-19? If so, you may be able to help others who are critically ill from the COVID-19 infection by donating your plasma.

When people become infected with COVID-19, their immune system creates antibodies to fight the virus. Those who have completely recovered from COVID-19 may have immune-boosting antibodies in their plasma—called “convalescent plasma”—that could be used to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients. This provides a boost to the immune system of the sick patient and may help speed the recovery process.

Miller-Keystone Blood Center is strongly encouraging plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients. Plasma (the liquid part of our blood) cannot be manufactured by a pharmaceutical company. Therefore, we are dependent upon donations from recovered patients to ensure that we have a continued supply of this investigational therapy.

Recovered COVID-19 patients can donate plasma 28 days after their symptoms have resolved or 14 days if they receive a negative COVID-19 test. All patients interested in donations will have the same screening performed on all blood product donors.

To become a convalescent plasma donor, contact the MyLVHN Nurse Line at 888-402-LVHN (5846). To learn more, read frequently asked questions and visit Miller-Keystone Blood Center at GiveaPint.org.

Get a COVID-19 Pre-Screening

Help is available through an E-Visit, video screening or our nurse helpline.

Learn more