By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Hospitalizations due to the coronavirus have been on the rise across San Bernardino County, but despite the increase, the County has seen death rates drop in area hospitals. According to local health professionals, this is partially due to local healthcare workers’ ability to manage and treat COVID-19.
In short, doctors have learned a lot since seeing and treating the first rush of COVID-19 patients in March, when most had never seen a person sick with the virus. Four months later, nearly every emergency room and intensive care physician in the country is intimately familiar with the disease. In that time, they’ve learned a lot about how best to treat patients.
For example, in the initial months of the pandemic, patients hospitalized with low oxygen saturation levels were put on ventilators, which is common with similar respiratory issues such as pneumonia. As health experts became more familiar with the virus, there’s been alternatives to help patients get enough oxygen to avoid needing a ventilator. In some cases, patients experiencing low oxygen saturation levels benefit from CPAP or BiPAP machines.
CPAP or BiPAP machines are non-invasive mechanical ventilation systems that can help a patient breathe by pushing air through a mask that is placed over the nose and mouth. Straps keep the mask in place. A machine pushes air and oxygen through the mask, and the pressure of the air helps the patient breathe.
A ventilator, on the other hand, uses a machine to push air and oxygen into the lungs through a tube in a patient’s windpipe. The tube goes through the mouth or nose, through the windpipe and into the lungs. The tube is about as big around as a dime.
“We find that we can bridge people on these high-flow oxygen devices for a period of several days and in many cases avoid intubation,” said Dr. Troy Pennington from Arrowhead Regional Medical Center.
Also, doctors now are more vigilant to the threat from blood clots, which have appeared in many COVID-19 patients over the past months. Healthcare professionals can now act quickly to provide treatment as blood clots occur at a higher rate in COVID-19 patients.
And finally, doctors now have better medications for hospitalized patients. Since March, doctors have worked through different options like hydroxychloroquine, which turned out not to be effective. Now they are using remdesivir, an antiviral drug that is helping many COVID-19 patients recover more quickly, as well as the steroid dexamethasone, which helps improve the survival rate for patients on ventilators.