Lee Health doctors working to learn more about how to treat COVID-19 patients

Lee Health is learning more about how to treat COVID-19 patients and minimize the symptoms. They say until there’s a vaccine, we must continue wearing masks and social distancing.

Doctors believe if the current trend holds, kids should be able to go back to school safely at the end of this month.

July was a tough one, not just for Lee Health, but hospitals across Southwest Florida as the number of COVID-19 cases surged.

On Wednesday, during a virtual town hall, Lee Health doctors reassured that trend has reversed, and they’re getting better at treating people who get sick.

180 people are battling COVID-19 in Lee Health hospitals at this hour.

“The number of people in the hospital tells you how sick they are,” said Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci.

What a difference a month makes. Antonucci said 30 days ago that the hospital system was treating 300 COVID-19 patients and was at 100% staffed bed capacity.

“Normally this time of year, our capacity will be about 1,000 patients. We’ve been running anywhere from about 1,100 to 1,300 at this time,” Antonucci said.

As the pandemic rolls on, Lee Health doctors say they’re learning more about treating people with the virus. They’re using Remdesivir, oxygen treatments and convalescent plasma to help patients recover.

“Ventilators are really our last resort. My preference is not putting somebody on a ventilator if I can treat them before,” said Dr. Alex Daneshmand, chief quality and patient safety officer.

The average hospital stay for a COVID-19 patient is a little over eight days, but what happens after you’re cleared from the hospital leaves doctors still looking for answers.

So much is unknown right now about the long term effects of COVID,” Antonucci said. “We don’t quite understand what makes someone recover quickly or what continues someone to be sick.”

But doctors do know this virus will be here with us for a while.

“I’m hopeful that sooner or later we’re going to have some type of vaccination or herd immunity will take place,” Daneshamand said. “But until that time, we do have to wear a mask.”

They’re hoping all the precautions we’re taking wearing masks and social distancing will make for a lighter than normal flu season.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
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