While COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased nearly 400% through November, in Western New York but the number of patients requiring an ICU bed increased at a slower rate.

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According to a story aired on WIVB-TV as of the end of November 432 people with COVID-19 were in a hospital bed in the Western New York area. Seventy-seven of them were in ICU, or about 18%. Compared to hospitalizations this spring, when more than half of COVID-19 patients who hospitalized were in the ICU.

“When we first started seeing the virus in March and April, a lot of the patients required ICU-level care right off the get go,” said Dr. Samuel Cloud, Associate Medical Director at ECMC. Cloud is also an attending physician in the Emergency Department.

The difference...

Cloud said the science hasn’t given doctor’s a proven answer. But science and experience has helped guide doctors in tailoring their treatment as time has passed in 2020.

Cloud says what experience over the past 9 months has taught them is to try to avoid putting a patient on a ventilator unless they really have to, oxygen now is the number one treatment.

“Beyond oxygen, we also give patients whose lungs are hurting a bit, we give them steroids,” Cloud said. “We have the drug Remdesivir. We also have something called convalescent plasma. That’s plasma that contains antibodies given by people who have had COVID-19 already.”

Hospitalizations during November increased 380%, based on state data. The number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU increased 285%.

But there is positive news, and that is that the average length of stay for patients has decreased.

Cloud says in the spring, a COVID patient would spend an average of 21 days in the hospital. Now, he says about half of their patients leave within four-to-six days.

On Tuesday, Governor Cuomo ordered hospitals to initiate emergency procedures requiring them to identify retired nurses and doctors to aid staffing and to plan to add 50% to their bed capacity.

Cuomo also earlier announced that elective surgeries in Erie County will stop this Friday.

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