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Palomar Health, San Diego County offer one-stop-shop for COVID-19 testing, treatment

Posted at 4:37 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 20:23:13-05

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - It's a first-of-its-kind COVID-19 service clinic for San Diego County, and possibly, the first in the country.

It used to be the site of the old Palomar Hospital in downtown Escondido, but now the county and Palomar Health are running a drive-thru resource clinic. The site fully opened Tuesday morning.

Three floors of the parking garage have been turned into a COVID-19 vaccination and testing site.

What's unique about the location, is the ability to also get the monoclonal antibody treatment.

"That was our biggest hurdle and now that we have a dedicated space that can infuse up to fifty people a day is a great win for San Diego County," said Dr. Sandeep Soni, Medical Director of Infectious Diseases at Palomar Health.

Patients who are obese, diabetic, or 65 and up may be eligible for the treatment with a doctor's referral and as long as they are within ten days of the onset of symptoms. Patients 55 and older with comorbidities may also be eligible.

"It's made for that particular patient, that mild to moderate symptomatology, it does not require admission, but you're at home and you're in that category of high-risk patients, you would qualify if within 10 days of symptom onset," said Dr. Soni.

According to Dr. Soni, during the surge, it was difficult for hospitals to administer the therapy due to logistical challenges.

"Most systems have had a hard time of where to give it because you don't want to tie up an emergency room for something where it's not really an emergency, and trying to get a covid patient who is still infectious into other parts of your hospital as an outpatient is not easy to do," said Dr. Soni.

Once high-risk patients end up in the hospital, things can deteriorate quickly.

"Those outcomes have not been good in the hospital, especially if they are overweight and diabetic and they end up with severe disease, so trying to get this early, trying to prevent the progression is the goal," said Soni.

He explained how using antibodies can prevent symptoms from progressing.

"It's basically using blood from a previous patient from a while ago and looking at what they have inside of them and trying to create in the lab a protein, an antibody that will protect against coronavirus," said Dr. Soni.

Appointments for vaccines and COVID-19 tests must be made on the palomarhealth.org website. A referral from a doctor is needed for antibody treatment.

"Very proud of Palomar health and the county for coming together to create a process where you can get 3 things at once."