AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado is beginning to track the rates of COVID-19 patients who have been discharged from the hospital, after Gov. Jared Polis said he’s been working with hospitals for weeks to have them track that information. Tuesday, hospitals officials tell CBS4 their discharge numbers are reassuring.
“The rate of the number of cases is decreasing. There’s still more cases, but the rate of increase has decreased, and the rate of discharge is increasing,” explained Dr. Richard Zane, UCHealth’s Chief Innovation Officer and Head of Emergency Medicine. “So, that’s great news.”
Since Colorado’s first case, all UCHealth hospitals statewide have discharged 370 of more than 620 COVID-19 patients. UCHealth says 200 of those patients were Denver-area hospitals.
A spokesperson for the HealthONE hospital in Denver said of the 537 total COVID19 positive patients the facility has treated, 328 patients have been released to date.
“It’s giving us assurance. As you know, we were worried about things like personal protective equipment and ventilators, and we still are working very hard to be careful about that, but it gives us reassurance that we will be able to take care of the people in Colorado who become ill,” Dr. Zane said.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is working with hospitals across Colorado to get discharge rates. A spokesperson for the governor’s office tells CBS4 that data should be available later in the week.
While that data will be useful, there still won’t be complete state-wide recovery rate data.
However, CBS4 has examined state health department data to see the change in hospitalizations. This week, the number of new patients admitted is close to zero, showing the number of Coloradans hospitalized from COVID-19 appears to be declining.
Dr. John Douglas, head of the Tri-County Health Department, said tracking recovery data is an intensive process that bigger health departments just don’t have the resources to do.
“We don’t have enough viral swabs to do the testing, so we don’t do that, we don’t have antibody tests, so we don’t do that, and frankly, we don’t have enough person power right now to go back and call people once or twice or three times to figure out what’s going on with them,” Dr. Douglas explained. “Mostly, it’s a person power issue.”
Boulder County has been tracking its recovery rates since the start of the pandemic. So far, 116 COVID-19 patients of 286 have recovered in that county.
“So, what we are doing actually is contacting each person who has become ill… and we just call and check in on them and see how they are doing, and if they have recovered or not,” explained Chana Goussetis with the Boulder County Health Department.
Goussetis said Boulder qualifies a person as “recovered” if they have not been showing symptoms for at least seven days.
Doctors say the vast majority of people do recover from COVID-19 – about 80% – but to help out the hospitals, and prevent infection rates from increasing again, Dr. Zane urges everyone to continue staying at home.
“It’s really up to the citizens of Colorado to comply with social distancing and you will determine our fate,” Dr. Zane said.
CBS4 will keep you posted as soon as state-wide hospital discharge data becomes available.