By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4)- A unique collaboration between Colorado hospitals is helping keeping COVID-19 hospitalizations down and giving the state more insight into what the remainder of the summer could look like.

“It’s fascinating data it really is. I mean, this stuff is cutting edge data because no one, I don’t think really anywhere in the country has put together something like this,” said Dr. Gary Winfield, HealthONE Chief Medical Officer.

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When the impact of COVID-19 started to grow in Colorado in early March of 2020, the Chief Medical and Chief Clinical Officers of Banner Health, Boulder Community Health, Centura Health, Denver Health, Health ONE, SCL Health and UCHealth came together to discuss impacts to individual hospitals and look at what each was doing to take care of incoming patients.

“It became a really tight group in some ways,” he said. “You know when you’re in this battle everyday and it got dark, especially at the beginning, it was very sobering I know that, and so it tends to pull people together, and I think overtime we became very effective, and I think you see that in the data.”

The data, released Tuesday, was collected by the hospitals from March through the end of May. It showed the death rate for hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Colorado dropped from more than 15% in March and April to about 10.5%. The average hospital stay also fell from about 12 days to seven days over that period.

“I think part of the reason you saw the decline in mortality and ventilated rates, all that was because we were literally in real time working as kind of a big, big system to spread, I think some of the better practices to keep people alive.”

He said reducing the amount of time spent on a ventilator was also key to patient recovery.

(credit: CBS)

“The more you shorten down those big lengths stays, those big times on the vent, not only do you increase survival but you’re going to increase the quality of life for these patients.”

Of more than 5,000 patients admitted, about 65% were able to go home and just over 18% received continued care at a rehab facility. Fourteen percent died.

Winfield says the group is working closely with the state, continuing to share data. While it’s hard to predict what the summer will look like, the collaboration has undoubtedly helped to prepare.

“We’ve continued and still do today, see significant reductions in patient numbers this is in the face of reopenin … over six-plus weeks so I think that really says that we’re doing something right as a group and as a state,” he said.

The group hosted a virtual event Tuesday to discuss the data, you can find more information, including a link to the meeting here.

Jamie Leary