Officials: We could lose COVID infusion center if more people don’t use it

Published 3:46 pm Monday, September 20, 2021

BEAUMONT — One month after opening, a regional monoclonal infusion center is in danger of closing if utilization doesn’t increase.

“We have had 150-200 people (per day) receiving infusions since our center was opened,” said Allison Getz on behalf of Jefferson County. “This weekend was a significant decrease and we are concerned our center could be closed in the future.”

The center, located at 5550 Eastex Freeway in Beaumont, is funded by American Cares Rescue Plan Act and is designed to treat COVID-positive patients in Jefferson, Hardin, Orange and Jasper counties prior to the need of oxygen or hospitalization.

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Any infected person 12 or older is available for treatment, and Getz said even those with mild cases should call their primary care doctor or the center’s hotline to schedule an appointment.

“You just don’t know what’s going to happen, or if you could get worse,” she said.

And in her case, which was diagnosed in early August, infusions were necessary.

“I was really struggling,” she said. “I was fully vaccinated. I followed all the rules. I did everything right.”

Infusions must be given within 10 days of a positive test. More than 3,900 Southeast Texans have utilized the center since it opened.

“Our hospitalizations rate is down slightly but not significantly, and ICUs remain full,” Getz said.

In mid-August, Gov. Greg Abbott announced the intent to send nearly 3,000 medical personnel to hospitals across the state to help with rising COVID numbers, which was to be fully funded through the end of the month. The Texas Department of State Health and Human Services and the Texas Division of Emergency Management had opened 17 infusion centers — including the one in Beaumont — across the state as of Sept. 3. In addition, Abbott’s office said, there are at least 140 private providers administering antibody treatments.

On Friday, the Port Arthur Health Department — which serves Port Arthur, Nederland, Port Neches and Groves, announced 119 COVID-positive cases and the death of a Port Arthur man between 55 and 59 years old. The City of Beaumont on the same day confirmed 162 cases.

Approximately 48 percent of Jefferson County residents were fully vaccinated as of Monday.

The COVID-19 infusion center hotline number is 409-550-2536.