As the COVID-19 outbreak grows in Connecticut, nearly 600 patients are hospitalized across the Yale New Haven Health system with 325 in New Haven, according to hospital officials.
But hospital leaders said Tuesday there is some progress: 250 patients have been treated and released.
“Many, many of these people are getting healthy and able to go home and be productive members of their communities again,” said Marna Borgstrom, CEO of Yale New Haven Health.
During a briefing via conference call, Yale New Haven Health leaders discussed an experimental form of treatment using Hydroxychloroquine.
“If we knew that it worked, then we would no longer consider it experimental,” said Dr. Tom Balcezak, Chief Clinical Officer of Yale New Haven Health.
“What we are not sure is whether or not it can help patients get better from the virus without causing unnecessary side effects. It is still considered a possible therapy. We’re still using it in a vast majority of our inpatients, we are monitoring them closely.”
Dr. Balcezak added it should not be used outside of a hospital setting. While there are no proven therapies for COVID-19, the hospital has two clinical trials underway.
Some COVID-19 patients are now being treated on the top three floors of the Smilow Cancer Hospital.
“Fifteen (15th floor) is fully operational as an ICU with 28 beds, and twelve is beginning to be filled as an ICU. Fourteen we’re holding in reserve at this point,” said Dr. Balcezak.
Each of those floors has a specialized exhaust system to protect patients and healthcare workers. And as for protective equipment, staff have almost doubled their use of masks as cases climb.
“Last week across the health system, we were using about 1,300 N95 respirators a day across the health system. In the last three days we’ve been using over 3,000,” said Dr. Balcezak.
They say they have enough, but not a surplus of personal protective equipment. They’ve found a way to make the masks reusable.
“We have the capacity to repurpose more than what we’re using per day using hydrogen peroxide vapor,” said Balcezak. “We’re monitoring the rest of the PPE closely.”
As the peak nears in the next 10-15 days, officials say they’re thankful for the public following social distancing guidelines.
“It’s the difference between the hospitals being overwhelmed and us being able to care for the volume of patients that we are seeing.”