By Richard Rourk
COVID-19 numbers are trending down across Ballad Health’s service region, according to Ballad Health’s Director of Infection Prevention Jamie Swift.
“We continue to remain very positive with some of the trends that we are seeing,” Swift said during a media briefing on Wednesday, Sept. 16. “We continue to see positivity rates and hospitalizations trending down. Numbers are better than they were a month ago. As of this morning, we are treating 78 patients that are COVID positive in our facilities. Of those, we have 12 patients that are in ICU and of those eight are on ventilators. Our current occupancy rate is at 96 percent of med surg beds and 92.9 percent of ICU beds within Ballad’s facilities. We currently have 49 available COVID dedicated beds and nine available ICU beds. We currently have a positivity rate of 7.6 percent, which is better than the past couple of weeks.”
Swift warned that this is the time that everyone must stay diligent in the fight against COVID-19.
“We must not get complacent and get too comfortable with these trending numbers,” Swift said. “The numbers are down, but we still have a long way to go. Wearing masks and proper hygiene are keeping these trends on a downward trajectory. Although our numbers are lower, we still have people that are fighting COVID-19 and the outcome is not always positive.”
According to Swift, one number that increasing in the region is the number of deaths.
“We are seeing a rise in numbers of deaths,” Swift said. “That is to be expected, considering that we saw a spike in cases several weeks ago. We know that death rates lag behind positivity rates. What we are trying to prevent is future spikes in positivity rates.”
Ballad Health Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton reiterated what Swift announced about the rise in deaths due to COVID-19.
“The number of deaths in Ballad facilities due to COVID-19 for this week is 45 and we have seen 225 deaths so far,” Deaton said. “We had a 20 percent increase in deaths this week.”
Ballad officials are preparing for flu season and are asking everyone to do their part in fighting the flu as well as COVID-19.
“Now is the time to get your flu vaccines,” Swift said. “It is especially important that you get your flu shot this season. If we see a severe flu season and continue to see these COVID numbers, it’s really going to stress our health care system. Flu shots are recommended for everyone 6 months and older.”
According to Deaton, trends show that we could see an increase in COVID-19 cases as flu season begins.
“According to our COVID-19 predictive model, we could see an increase in cases beginning around the first of October. As colder temperatures and flu season sets in, we will see an upward trend if we continue to follow our current model,” Deaton said. “That’s why it’s important to do everything we can to keep those numbers lower. We need to continue to wear our masks, social distance and wash and sanitize hands.”
Convalescent plasma has been a key tool in fighting COVID-19 for Ballad Health.
“This project has been very beneficial in our fight against COVID-19,” Deaton said. “To date, we have given 389 units to our COVID patients and we have received more than 500 units from donors so far. We continue to ask for anyone that has had COVID-19 and has recovered, please consider donating.”
According to Deaton, a COVID-19 vaccine could be here by the end of 2020.
“There has been a discussion about vaccines lately,” Deaton said. “It could be the end of the year before we see a vaccine and it could be several months to distribute the vaccine once it is available.”
In closing, Deaton provided the goal for hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in the region.
“We are aiming at 47 patients daily; that is the number that we are comfortable with,” Deaton said. “We are still averaging more than 100 patients currently. We are optimistic moving forward, but we still need to be very careful moving forward.”
For more information please visit balladhealth.org. To find out if you qualify to donate convalescent plasma, please call 408-7500.