Amedisys Inc. (NASDAQ: AMED) and Option Care Health Inc. (NASDAQ: OPCH) have formed a partnership to issue a COVID-19 infusion therapy to patients in long-term care facilities throughout the Indianapolis and Valparaiso, Ind., markets. The effort is intended to assist residents in a setting hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Amedisys felt well-poised to take on the immediate demand of meeting COVID-19 patient needs, according to President and CEO Paul Kusserow.
“We have experience from being on the frontlines and caring for more than 12,500 COVID 19-positive patients,” said Kusserow. “We know how important innovative solutions are for caring for those who need our services the most, and this is exactly the type of partnerships in which Amedisys wants to be involved to help our country make it through this pandemic.”
The National Home Infusion Association (NHIA) collaborated with Operation Warp Speed and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in December to expand access to the drug Bamlanivimab for COVID-19 positive patients in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities.
The U.S. Food and Drug and Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization for the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy. Initial trials of the infusion therapy proved to help treat mild to moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients who are at high risk for progressing to severe symptoms or hospitalization.
Option Care Health is an NHIA member and agreed to participate in the pilot program. The infusion provider’s role in the partnership will involve clinical pharmacy oversight and distributing the treatment through its national network of pharmacy operations.
“We are proud to collaborate with Amedisys, along with NHIA and leaders of Operation Warp Speed, to expand access to vital therapies for one of the most vulnerable populations,” John Rademacher, CEO of Option Care Health. “Combining the extraordinary capabilities of two industry leaders to solve a critical health care challenge is truly humbling.”
Amedisys will manage the operational and staffing aspects to distribute and administer the COVID-19 infusion, overseeing onsite care coordination in select locations through its hospice division clinical team.
Despite facing financial hits resulting from increased costs during the outbreak, the company has hired 73 new employees. Amedisys’ hospice segment saw a decline during 2020’s second quarter, largely stemming from a dip in hospice referrals, according to Kusserow. The company’s facility-based patient census fell to 35% during the third quarter of the year from 43% in the prior year’s quarter; non-facility business rose to 64% in Q3, up from 57% during the same period in 2019.
More than 100,000 staff and residents in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities have lost their lives to COVID-19 since the pandemic’s onset, according to the COVID Tracking Project. Hospice providers are among those hopeful to regain access to patients in these high-risk settings, which has been curtailed due to fears of spreading the virus.
A partnership of this scale could sprout opportunities for future collaborations with other providers, according to Amy Moss, M.D., senior vice president of hospice clinical operations at Amedisys.
“This is something that could continue after the public health emergency is over,” Moss told Hospice News sister publication, Home Health Care News. “Maybe not necessarily just limited to infusion opportunities. This is very much in line with our overall mission at Amedisys prior to COVID, which was looking for novel ways to expand full-service care in the home or whenever the patient may be. It really sparked some creativity about how else we could collaborate with other providers out there.”