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  • November 24, 2021

    COLUMBIA, Md – A high school teacher from Northern Virginia has become the 5000th COVID-19 patient to receive life-saving monoclonal antibody therapy with MedStar Health. Kacey Meakes, 35, came down with a cough, sore throat, fever, vomiting and headache during the second week of November. A trip to MedStar Health Urgent Care confirmed a COVID-19 diagnosis. Then, on Friday November 19, she went to MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s specially designed monoclonal antibody infusion center to receive the 25-minute infusion.

    “I thought the treatment was only for people who got really sick,” said Meakes. “But by day six and seven, I was getting worse not better, and I thought maybe I should get the monoclonal antibodies because they’re the main treatment available.”

    MedStar Health began providing monoclonal antibody therapy in November 2020 and providers saw the same positive results as those seen nationally.

    “We’ve learned that we have a treatment – monoclonal antibodies that - if they’re given early in the infection can prevent death and hospitalization from covid infection,” said Glenn Wortmann, MD, infectious diseases specialist with MedStar Health.

    Meakes, who describes her covid experience as “not particularly fun,” is fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and has a history of asthma, which puts her at high risk of having a severe case of the virus and makes her a good candidate for monoclonal antibodies.

    “If you’re at risk for severe covid - if you’re over the age of 65, you’re pregnant, or you have other medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, bad heart disease, COPD – those things put you at risk for severe covid – you’d be a candidate for monoclonal antibodies,” said Wortmann.

    Dr. Wortmann says the treatment must be given within 10 days of developing COVID-19 symptoms to be most effective. Treatment is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized and require oxygen due to COVID-19.

    In addition to sickle cell, COPD, heart disease and being over 65, positive COVID-19 patients 12 years and older with the following conditions may benefit from the monoclonal antibody infusion:

    • Pregnancy
    • Body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 (or for pediatrics BMI ≥ 85th percentile for age)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Diabetes
    • Immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment
    • Poorly controlled hypertension
    • Cardiovascular disease or Congenital Heart Disease
    • Other respiratory diseases
    • Neurodevelopmental disorders
    • Medical-related technological dependence (i.e. tracheostomy, gastrostomy)
    • Other medical condition or factor (i.e. race or ethnicity) that may place the patient at a higher risk for progression to severe COVID-19

    The therapy is available at MedStar Health emergency departments in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, as well as four MedStar Health monoclonal antibody infusion centers:

    • MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    • MedStar Harbor Hospital
    • MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
    • MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

    “I was happy to come in and get the monoclonal antibodies and hopefully get better faster,” said Meakes. “It wasn’t a big deal. I have to go back to work and get back to my life, so I’m really hopeful this is going to help me on my way. I’m really grateful.”

    Learn more about this therapy treatment 

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  • November 24, 2021

    COLUMBIA, Md – A high school teacher from Northern Virginia has become the 5000th COVID-19 patient to receive life-saving monoclonal antibody therapy with MedStar Health. Kacey Meakes, 35, came down with a cough, sore throat, fever, vomiting and headache during the second week of November. A trip to MedStar Health Urgent Care confirmed a COVID-19 diagnosis. Then, on Friday November 19, she went to MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s specially designed monoclonal antibody infusion center to receive the 25-minute infusion.

    “I thought the treatment was only for people who got really sick,” said Meakes. “But by day six and seven, I was getting worse not better, and I thought maybe I should get the monoclonal antibodies because they’re the main treatment available.”

    MedStar Health began providing monoclonal antibody therapy in November 2020 and providers saw the same positive results as those seen nationally.

    “We’ve learned that we have a treatment – monoclonal antibodies that - if they’re given early in the infection can prevent death and hospitalization from covid infection,” said Glenn Wortmann, MD, infectious diseases specialist with MedStar Health.

    Meakes, who describes her covid experience as “not particularly fun,” is fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and has a history of asthma, which puts her at high risk of having a severe case of the virus and makes her a good candidate for monoclonal antibodies.

    “If you’re at risk for severe covid - if you’re over the age of 65, you’re pregnant, or you have other medical conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, bad heart disease, COPD – those things put you at risk for severe covid – you’d be a candidate for monoclonal antibodies,” said Wortmann.

    Dr. Wortmann says the treatment must be given within 10 days of developing COVID-19 symptoms to be most effective. Treatment is not authorized for patients who are hospitalized and require oxygen due to COVID-19.

    In addition to sickle cell, COPD, heart disease and being over 65, positive COVID-19 patients 12 years and older with the following conditions may benefit from the monoclonal antibody infusion:

    • Pregnancy
    • Body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 (or for pediatrics BMI ≥ 85th percentile for age)
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Diabetes
    • Immunosuppressive disease or receiving immunosuppressive treatment
    • Poorly controlled hypertension
    • Cardiovascular disease or Congenital Heart Disease
    • Other respiratory diseases
    • Neurodevelopmental disorders
    • Medical-related technological dependence (i.e. tracheostomy, gastrostomy)
    • Other medical condition or factor (i.e. race or ethnicity) that may place the patient at a higher risk for progression to severe COVID-19

    The therapy is available at MedStar Health emergency departments in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, as well as four MedStar Health monoclonal antibody infusion centers:

    • MedStar Washington Hospital Center
    • MedStar Harbor Hospital
    • MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital
    • MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

    “I was happy to come in and get the monoclonal antibodies and hopefully get better faster,” said Meakes. “It wasn’t a big deal. I have to go back to work and get back to my life, so I’m really hopeful this is going to help me on my way. I’m really grateful.”

    Learn more about this therapy treatment 

  • November 16, 2021

    Columbia, Md. – MedStar Health is taking COVID-19 vaccines on the road to make sure the newest group of eligible children who live in underserved communities of Washington, D.C., have easy access to the life-saving shots. Children age 5-11 are now getting their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at pediatric offices across the system, including MedStar Georgetown Pediatrics in Tenleytown and onboard the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile at its regular stops in wards 6 and 7.

    “Getting the COVID-19 vaccine to our younger populations is critical to our overall vaccination strategy,” said Christina Hughes, vice president, Healthcare System Preparedness & Chief Preparedness Officer and a leader in the coordination and logistics of vaccine arrival and distribution for MedStar Health. “As we work to address health disparities in our community around COVID-19, the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic helps us improve their access and get the vaccines to groups who have been disproportionately affected by this virus.”

    “We are pleased to be able to vaccinate our pediatric patients five days a week at both our Tenleytown office and on the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in wards 6 and 7 in the District,” said Michael Donnelly, MD, chair of Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    Onboard the Kids Mobile Medical Clinic/Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, which has served as a medical home to underserved children across the District especially in wards 5,6,7, and 8 for some 30 years, teams are vaccinating this newest group on Tuesdays starting November 16 and circling back to locations to ensure kids get their second dose.

    “We’re just very relieved,” said Dwight Miller whose two sons were vaccinated onboard the mobile clinic. “I was stressed about getting calls from school about positive cases at school wondering if my child would be next, so it’s a huge sigh of relief.”

    “Getting the vaccine is very easy and only takes five minutes,” said Harriet Huntley whose son also got the COVID-19 shot onboard the medical clinic. “My son wanted to play football and they told him he couldn’t play football until he got the shot.”

    “We’re really excited to have this opportunity to provide vaccines for all our patients in the mobile clinic which is the medical home that families in these wards know and trust,” said Janine Rethy, MD, MPH, division chief of Community Pediatrics at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

    The Kids Mobile Medical Clinic serves communities that have expressed concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, but Dr. Rethy says their long-standing presence in the community has made a big difference.

    “When we started to give vaccines to the older kids over the summer, I thought it was going to be a hard sell for some of our families, but it really wasn’t,” said Dr. Rethy. “It was a matter of them knowing us and trusting us and just having one or two questions answered and then they were good to go.”

    “This is a really special opportunity for MedStar Health to take the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine directly to the children and their families in the District’s most vulnerable neighborhoods,” said Senior Director of Community Health for MedStar Health, Diana Quinn. “We know this is the next important step towards getting our families and our communities back to normal.”

    “We feel like this vaccine is safe and effective and the risks of taking the vaccine are lower than the risks of getting the disease itself and spreading it to others in the community,” said Dr. Rethy. “For 5-11-year olds, the vaccine decreases the risk of getting the virus by 91 percent which is really excellent. In fact the side effects such as sore arm, fatigue and low-grade fever are even lower than those experienced by the older teens, which is very promising.”

    “Think about your loved ones. Think about your community,” said Miller who will be taking his sons to their grandmother’s house for the holidays. “Most importantly think about protecting the health of your family, especially your kids.”

    To make an appointment with the mobile clinic call 202-295-0547. To learn more and to find a COVID-19 vaccine in your area, visit vaccines.gov.

  • Close-up of a nurse giving a patient wearing a mask a COVID-19 vaccine shot
    September 05, 2021
    COLUMBIA, Md. – Monumental Sports recently announced a $1,000,000 contribution to support MedStar Health’s continued efforts to deliver COVID-19 vaccines within the District of Columbia.
    Throughout the pandemic, MedStar Health has remained at the forefront of care by rapidly implementing necessary changes to meet the demands of the virus and is now focused on efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccines in underserved communities in the District.

    “Monumental Sport’s support for our continued vaccination efforts is coming at the perfect time,” said Elizabeth Delasobera, MD, Medical Director of MedStar Health Urgent Care and Team Physician for the Washington Capitals. “As we move our vaccine efforts into our primary care and ambulatory locations, it remains critical that we continue to vaccinate those in our community who still need to be vaccinated. This support will also help vaccinate our pediatric population as vaccinations become available to more age groups. I am grateful and proud of this amazing partnership.”

    “Monumental Sports knows every community member deserves equal access to these life-saving COVID-19 vaccines,” said Monica Dixon, president of External Affairs and chief administrative officer at Monumental Sports. “With this support, we hope to help provide more access to vaccines for our community through MedStar Health’s expansive healthcare network.”

    MedStar Health currently offers COVID-19 vaccines at various sites in the D.C. region. To learn more about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine through MedStar Health, please click here.
  • Nurse wearing a mask giving a thumbs up after receiving a COVID vaccine shot
    August 30, 2021

    Columbia, MD – As a leading healthcare system, MedStar Health is coming together to do our part in the battle against the COVID-19 virus as the Delta variant continues to impact our patients, our work, and our ways of life. Science and medicine, with reinforcement from trusted sources, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), indicate the best defense against COVID-19 is to be fully vaccinated.

    With the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on August 23, 2021, MedStar Health will begin to implement our Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. 

    Showcasing our highest commitment to protecting the safety of those we serve, MedStar Health is requiring all associates, physicians, residents/fellows, students, Board members, medical staff members and other non-employed credentialed professionals, contractors, volunteers, agency employees, and vendors to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 1, 2021, as a condition of employment in accordance with our Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccination Policy. Fully vaccinated is defined as receiving both doses of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or the single-dose COVID-19 vaccine (Johnson & Johnson), and we will offer medical and religious exemptions.

    Vaccinations are provided free of charge.

    Like other healthcare organizations and federal and local institutions, we support the science and safety of COVID-19 vaccines. We are joined by the Maryland Hospital Association (MHA), District of Columbia Hospital Association (DCHA), and their member healthcare systems and hospitals in endorsing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers. Many have already implemented these requirements as part of local mandates, as have non-healthcare organizations and entities. The goal of protecting and caring for others through vaccination is a common and uniting commitment throughout our community, region, and nation.

    Overall, more than 70% of our associates and 80% of our clinicians are already vaccinated.  Compliance with this requirement from the remainder of our organization will further protect our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. It will move us closer to realizing the normalcy we no longer take for granted. Our commitment requires our shared and united dedication to protect the safety of those we serve.

  • July 15, 2021

    Sewa International distributing PPE and other critical supplies to the Caribbean and India

    Columbia, MD – As COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low in the United States, MedStar Health is donating a significant amount of surplus PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and clinical equipment to several countries still working to contain the virus.

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    The donation is being fulfilled through a partnership with Sewa International, a not-for-profit organization that has been distributing disaster relief around the world since 2003. Following the hand-off of six truckloads of equipment to Sewa, the supplies are now on their way to facilities in Trinidad, Guyana, Suriname, the Bahamas, and India where frontline healthcare workers, patients, and the public are in need of as much protection as possible.

    Siva Subramanian, MD, chief of Neonatology at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, spearheaded the effort with support from MedStar Health leadership.

    “This is something that is going to be a tremendous help in containing this very contagious COVID-19,” Subramanian said. “As someone who takes care of patients, I know this type of protective equipment is so important and it makes me very proud that we are able to share this from MedStar Health.”

    The donation includes KN-95 masks, reusable surgeon masks, cannisters of disinfecting wipes, packages of hand sanitizer for Caribbean nations and two CPAP machines to be distributed in India. MedStar Health successfully maintained its primary supply of N-95 masks throughout the pandemic, which made its emergency surplus of KN-95 masks available for donation.

    “We bought a lot of these masks because the supply of N-95 masks was very uncertain and we weren’t going to take any chances,” said Ed Robinson, vice president of Integrated Support Operations for MedStar Health. “Fortunately, we are in a position now where we can support this very noble humanitarian effort by Sewa International to provide much needed support to other parts of the world that are in great need right now.”

    Representatives from Sewa International graciously accepted the donation in person at a MedStar Health supply facility in Prince George’s County, Maryland where the equipment was officially transferred.

    “In this COVID situation, the entire world is one. There is no discrimination. It does not discriminate based on economy. It doesn’t discriminate on anything,” said Shree Sreenath, PhD, MBA of SEWA International. “We at SEWA International are really happy to receive this from MedStar Health so that we are able to help our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and in India, where supplies are extraordinarily needed.”

  • June 29, 2021

    COLUMBIA, MD - MedStar Health has launched a groundbreaking program designed to meet the needs of patients dealing with post-COVID conditions, such as Long COVID. Long COVID is diagnosed when COVID survivors experience persisting symptoms for weeks and even several months after they’ve recovered from the acute stage of the illness.

    Dr. Eric Wisotzky
    Dr. Eric Wisotzky

    “As we started to see more and more people becoming ill with COVID, we started to notice that patients were not just bouncing back right away, but were left with many different lingering symptoms affecting different parts of the body,” said Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician Eric Wisotzky, MD, who serves as medical director of the program. “We quickly responded by building the MedStar Health COVID Recovery Program to respond to these needs.”

    The COVID Recovery Program coordinates the care of COVID-19 patients across a wide range of MedStar Health services to treat fatigue, pain, persistent shortness of breath, headache, thinking, focus, and memory issues, weakness, and other varying symptoms reported by some COVID-19 patients following their recovery from the initial stages of the virus.

    Patients are paired with a physician or advanced practice provider to evaluate symptoms and develop a care plan through either a telehealth appointment or a visit to MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., or MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore. From there, a patient navigator sets up appointments and follow ups for all the specific treatments they may need, which saves valuable time and energy.

    Some patients with serious cases of COVID-19, like Patrick Bright, 56, of Clinton, MD, require several different types of care following their infection. After a month long stay at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital battling the coronavirus in the Spring of 2020, Bright began physical therapy, occupational therapy, and therapy for heart failure caused by the virus.

    “Now I’m at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center for cardiac rehabilitation. Because I live so close, they’re allowing me to do my therapy there,” Bright said. “I’m so happy to be here. I just thank God for the medical staff at MedStar Health.”

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    Another patient taking advantage of the program is professional violinist Elise Blake, 38, of Washington, D.C., who spent six days at MedStar Washington Hospital Center with COVID-19 in November 2020. After overcoming her initial symptoms, Blake found that her ability to play violin at a high level had diminished.

    “You check for flow. You check for technique. Even when you’re learning a new piece, you know how to fix problems,” she said. “I just had to kind of stop for a while. I was really weak.”

    Blake was referred to the COVID Recovery Program where Dr. Wisotzky evaluated her symptoms and set her up with regular appointments to see specialists in pulmonology, neurology, and physical therapy. Over time, the strength and dexterity needed to play professional violin has returned. She is now back teaching students virtually and performing in outdoor concerts as venues start to reopen.

    Elise Blake

    “The thing I liked about the program was that it was so comprehensive,” Blake said. “It would have taken a lot more effort to set up all the appointments on my own when I didn’t have the energy. I’m convinced it helped me heal better because it was more streamlined.”

    “Through this whole team we’re really able to help people get back to their old selves,” said Wisotzky.

    Patients interested in the COVID Recovery Program should be at least six weeks removed from the start of COVID symptoms and should have documentation of at least one positive COVID-19 test. If a documented positive test is not available, patients can be referred by a primary care provider.

    For more information, visit medstarhealth.org/COVIDRecovery.


    About MedStar Health
    At MedStar Health, we use the best of our minds and the best of our hearts to serve our patients, those who care for them, and our communities. Our 30,000 associates and 4,700 affiliated physicians are committed to living this promise through our core SPIRIT values—Service, Patient first, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork—across our more than 300 locations including 10 hospitals, ambulatory, and urgent care centers. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar Health is training future physician leaders to care for the whole person and is advancing care through the MedStar Health Research Institute. From our telemedicine and urgent care services to the region’s largest home health agency, we’re committed to providing high-quality health care that’s also easy and convenient for our patients. At MedStar Health—It’s how we treat people. Learn more at MedStarHealth.org.