SIH's COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise, as are the positivity rates of people tested.
But hospital staff said Monday they are seeing improved outcomes with the increased use of antibody treatments.
Jennifer Harre, vice president and chief nursing officer, and Dr. Joshua Miksanek, an emergency room physician and medical director of SIH Herrin Hospital emergency department, gave an update Monday afternoon on COVID-19 at SIH facilities.
Harre said SIH has 40 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 10 are in the ICU at SIH Herrin Hospital and SIH Memorial Hospital of Carbondale.
She added that the numbers have been increasing slightly the past couple weeks.
SIH saw their lowest number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in mid-October, after the second surge of the virus. Harre said about 4% of the people tested for COVID were positive. Now, about 14% to 15%of those tested for COVID are positive.
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However, SIH is not seeing the same number of patients entering the hospital as they saw with the last surge, and those who do enter the hospital are not as sick as those who were hospitalized in late summer or early fall.
Dr. Miksanek said one of the reasons for that is the number of patients who are receiving antibody infusions.
“We’re doing a huge number of antibody infusions each day,” he said.
A couple weeks ago, SIH completed 90 — a record number — antibody infusions in one day. Their previous record was 89 according to their last available data.
Miksanek said he is seeing a lot of reporting on testing sites. SIH has asked the state for additional help for testing, especially at their Marion test site.
Harre said one issue is that people are not showing up on time for testing. Anyone who needs tested for COVID-19 can easily get an appointment through MyChart or by calling the hotline 844-988-7800.
While 40 hospitalized patients seems high, Miksanek said there are differences.
“While they are sick enough to get into the hospital, they are not needing advanced medical care,” he said.
There are five patients in the ICU at Memorial and five in Herrin. He added that the patients are not as sick as they were. They are coming into the hospital, getting treatment, then leaving. In the summer and early fall, patients were staying a lot longer after coming into the hospital sicker.
“We’ve learned to keep people off mechanical ventilation until there’s no other choice,” Miksanek said. “The way we’re treating patients has changed.”
He said there was so much unknown about COVID. Today, medical staff uses what they have learned to better treat patients.
Harre and Miksanek said hospital staff is tired.
“We have the greatest team, but they’re tired,” Harre said.
Miksanek said they used to get cookies or see supportive signs from the community as they went to work.
These days, they get yelled at.
He says one of the things that everyone can do is to get vaccinated and boosted. Miksanek said everyone over 60 needs to get that booster.
While they have not yet had anyone test positive for the Omicron variant, Miksanek believes it is probably here already.
It is so widespread in some areas that we likely have it here, too.
“If it is not here, we’ll have it in a couple weeks,” he said.