Anderson Regional Health Medical Center in Mississippi joined the National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Study led by Mayo Clinic. With relatively high COVID-19 infection rates in Mississippi, the health provider has given some COVID-19 patients transfusions. As to whether it is working, they report some potentially positive signals but can’t be sure yet. This regional health system has stood by residents in this generally rural community since the 1920s. It is still run by an descendant to the founder.
The Magnolia State & The Pandemic
Anderson Regional Health Center is located in Meridian, in the east central side of the state near the Alabama border. With about 3 million residents, Mississippi is the 40th most populous state in America. Generally a rural state, the “Magnolia State” embodies layers of unique southern culture, charm and spirit. The state is also known for a high poverty rate—in fact the nation’s highest is nearly 40%. Over 25% of the state’s residents depend on Medicaid for health access. About 345,000 (11.5%) of non-elderly adults are reported to have no health insurance.
The state reports 7,877 recorded cases of COVID-19 with 310 deaths. How does this rank with other states? Although 40th in population, it ranks 27th in total COVID-19 cases and 25th in total deaths. Researchers have found that low-income and high minority populated areas are correlated, in many cases, more severe pandemic conditions—African American males appear to be impacted more adversely that other demographic groups.
The Study: Is it Working?
The regional health provider has commenced with transfusing convalescent plasma to severely ill patients with SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic. In regards to the investigational product, Dr. William Billups, Chief of Staff for Anderson Regional Medical Center, reports, “We’re able to give it to our severely ill patients to hopefully help them clear the virus and have a better outcome.”
According to a local media WTOK, physicians at the hospital report positive signs with the treatment option but Dr. Billups cautions, “It’s difficult to say at this point, these patients are critically ill.” But indicating some positive momentum Billups slipped into the broadcast “But we’ve seen some encouraging observations in those patients.”
In Need of Donors
The provider is seeking more donors to help more severely ill patients struggling with severe SARS-CoV-2 cases. Those that can give plasma must be able to donate blood and also need to be COVID-19 symptom-free for 28 days. Women must have either no history of pregnancy or be negative for HLA antibodies. The donations are being handled by the Anderson Laboratory Director Marilyn Bell. Her contact information can bee viewed under “Call to Action” below.
The Provider: An Eye to the Future even in the Bad Times
Anderson Regional Health Medical Center now participates in this nation COVID-19 convalescent study in an attempt to help those most severely ill with the virus. This rural community health system was established by William Jefferson Anderson just before another crisis in American (and world) history: the Great Depression. As the hospital notes on its website, “having been founded in one of the bleakest economic eras in American history, and having grown through both good and bad economies, Anderson has always had an eye toward the future and the people and tools in place to weather hard times.” Today the Anderson Regional Health System is still led by the same family that founded the first hospital. With a robust medical staff covering 35 specialties, this provider is a vital lifeline for residents in this region. They are one of the largest medical systems in the state not to mention a major employer. With 260 beds the system generates $705 million in revenue.
The Anderson Regional Cancer Center is reported to be a “state-of-the-art comprehensive cancer center offering treatments for cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, colon head/neck and more.
Call to Action: If you are based in east center Mississippi and have recovered from COVID-19, contact Marilyn Bell, Director of the Anderson Laboratory. Her phone number is (610) 553-6868, and she’s available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30pm.