While vaccines offer prevention against COVID-19, more providers are now offering outpatient treatment options, including the federal Test To Treat program.
DENVER — Two years into the pandemic, Coloradans now have access to more than just preventative options to protect themselves from COVID-19. Treatments, like antibody therapies or antiviral pills, are increasingly becoming more available across the state.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has a list of available outpatient therapeutic treatment options online, including providers participating in the federal Test to Treat program.
In that program, eligible patients can receive a test for COVID-19, get a prescription for treatment from a healthcare provider and have their prescription filled all in one visit.
CDPHE said there are currently 54 providers in 15 counties enrolled in the Test to Treat program.
Many other providers in Colorado are providing similar services.
“This is really aimed at the high risk for severe disease,” said Dr. Carrie Horn, Chief Medical Officer at National Jewish Health. The hospital is offering therapeutics to eligible patients, including a clinic (available for walk-ins or appointments) for patients to get tested, meet with a provider and receive treatment.
“The big thing now compared to a year ago – we actually have treatments aimed at outpatient population,” Dr. Horn said.
“Now a large portion of the population is vaccinated. Their risk of disease and hospitalization is lower. You still have this at-risk population that, even with vaccine, could still get severely ill. That’s where you want to target this treatment. Treat them early as an outpatient, and their chance of ending up in the hospital is lower. So the overall stress on the healthcare system is in a much better place than it was a year ago and these treatments are a part of that that we did not have before.”
“Some people are still not aware this is out there,” said Leah Jones, a nurse practitioner who runs Rely Primary Care in Aurora. Her mobile practice treats patients by bringing the therapeutics to their home.
“We’re trying to keep them in their home, reduce the spread of the virus as much as possible,” she explained. “Sometimes people don’t feel well enough to leave their home, or they might be in assisted living and it might be physically difficult for them to leave. So we get out to those patients to treat them.”
Jones and her team have been offering monoclonal antibody treatments since late 2021. Supply and demand has varied. In the busier COVID months of December and January, she said it took longer for the state to get supply to providers, as experts figured out which type of antibody treatment would best treat different variants.
Unlike the Test-to-Treat program, most patients are finding her through a referral. However, she said she can offer telehealth appointments and assist those who don’t have a primary care provider.
“Maybe one or two a day,” she said, describing current demand. “It’s nice to be able to follow up on a positive test and say, ‘OK now here’s the treatment we can provide to you instead of just isolation at home.’”
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