COVID drive-up testing and infusion clinic open at AMITA Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center


A nurse checks in those to be tested for COVID on the St. Elizabeth Campus 

Friday, December 18, was a positive day for COVID related issues at AMITA Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center (SMEMC), according to their President and CEO, Bob Dahl.

They just passed the 700th COVID discharge, the new Eli Lilly antibody, Bamlanivimab, Infusion Clinic is up and running and they are in the midst of vaccinating about half of their staff against COVID-19.

In addition, Dahl points out, "We received our 15th grade ‘A’ from the Leapfrog Group in a row for patient safety and we are growing and expanding services to meet the needs of our community." 

Testing, Facilities and Staff
Located at the St. Elizabeth Campus, 1431 N. Claremont, the drive-up testing facility is quick and easy. Results are available in 24 to 48 hours. 

However, getting tested is a process. First the person must have an order for the test from their primary physician. They may register for the test and book their appointment. 

Using MyChart on one's phone, the process is made easy and efficient through an online software system called Epic. 

Having tested over 17,000 people for the virus since March, SMEMC is in the same position as hospitals across the country. They have staffing challenges. Thus, when talking about "capacity," they use the term "staffed bed" capacity. Theirs stands at 80% capacity. 

Three floors are devoted to COVID patients with the ability to expand to a fourth floor. Each floor has a different level of care requirement. On one floor 22 negative pressure rooms were increased to 48. 

Another room was retro-fitted to accommodate a room as a behavioral health unit. "There are not many facilities like that in the City," says Dahl. 

While roughly 80 staff members have tested positive, none were known to have contracted the virus at the hospital. "People are home and tend to let their guard down. But, you shouldn't. It is really important to continue to wear a mask and social distance…even with friends and family," commented Dahl. 

Infusion Center
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) permitting emergency use of the unapproved bamlanivimab, a product to treat mild to moderate COVID-19, in November. 


In the same drive-up area as the COVID testing area are reserved spaces for those being infused

It is to be used in adults and pediatric patients with positive results of direct SARS-COV-2 viral testing. Patients are to be 12 years of age and older, weighing over 88 plus pounds and at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. 

"High risk" is defined as a patient having at least one of the following:

  • body mass index (BMI) greater than 35
  • chronic kidney disease
  • diabetes
  • immunosuppressive disease
  • currently receiving immunosuppressive treatment
  • 65 years of age or older 

Those authorized to receive an infusion of this monoclonal antibody treatment spend an hour being infused and another hour waiting to confirm they have no allergic reaction. 

SMEMC is providing this service to their patients as well as those from two other AMITA hospitals, Resurrection and St. Joseph. 

"We are receiving as many doses as Rush University Medical Center," explained Dahl. "Many people leave here feeling great." The goal is to reduce the progression of the disease in these high risk individuals, which would require them to be hospitalized. 


Bob Dahl (Left) speaks with the staff at the testing site between drive-up patients

While Modern's COVID-10 vaccine was approved Friday, there is no determination about its distribution plan. What is certain is that the Pfizer vaccine, which is in house at SMEMC. 

The first recipient was Lydia McDermott from the nurse team in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The second was an physician in the Emergency Department. It is expected that 900 staff will be vaccinated by next Tuesday. They expect to be able to vaccinate the remainder of the staff who want the vaccination the week after that.



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