Caring For COVID-19 Patients at UNMC
November 2nd, 2020
LINCOLON – In recent weeks the volume of patients in hospitals has been a hot topic. The University of Nebraska Medical Center has seen many more patients with COVID-19 in this surge than in the one in the spring.
Dr. Kelly Cawcutt, infectious diseases specialist and critical care physician at UNMC, says there are many factors to take into consideration when measuring hospital capacity.
So I think the most important thing for us, really it has been, not just having a bed, but having a bed with the appropriate staff to take care of the patient. We can potentially make up more beds but do we have our nursing staff, our respiratory staff, and our physician staff, Cawcutt, says,
Most COVID-19 patients stay in the hospital longer than regular patients, especially if they are in the Intensive Care Unit, or ICU. COVID-19 patients can stay in the ICU for weeks, which is above normal.
Each COVID-19 patient requires an oxygen specialist, in addition to closely monitoring their blood pressure and they have to be constantly changed. The illest patients have to be turned on their stomach, and that is a task that requires much help.
That can be a six-person team physically trying to do that for these patients so it is not just a patient in a room that we can let them be, we are really in there doing a lot of care and a lot of manipulation of care, Cawcutt, says,
Patients on ventilators may have different devices connected to medications in different parts of the body; some might be on dialysis and many will need to use ventilators. For medical personnel, it is highly important to be able to turn patients very carefully.
So we don’t dislodge any of these critical support mechanisms we have in place. We also have to make sure the patient is placed comfortably and safely so that they are not putting pressure on the wrong side of their face, Cawcutt, says,
According to Dr. Cawcutt, so far UNMC has not seen a significant increase in flu cases. She thinks that in a way it has helped that people have been more careful about the COVID-19 virus and therefore are preventing spreading the flu virus.
Now, if we start to see more influenza cases rising, will that be a concern? Absolutely. We know people get sick with influenza and get hospitalized every year from that virus, Cawcutt, says,
Safety measures for medical workers who are in contact with COVID-19 patients have worked very well for the UNMC staff – the contamination from patients to workers remains very low. In some cases, health workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 may have been infected outside of the hospital.
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