The University of Kansas Health System reported a "big milestone" Thursday.
As of Thursday, there were no COVID-19 inpatients at HaysMed in either the active or recovery phase.
Read the complete media update from Thursday below:
The number of active COVID-19 patients at The University of Kansas Health System is steady today after yesterday’s spike.14 people with the active virus are being treated, down from 16 yesterday. Of those patients, three are in the ICU, the same as yesterday. Two of those patients are on ventilators, the same as yesterday. 18 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID-19 but are out of the acute infection phase, the same as yesterday. That’s a total of 32 patients, down from 34 yesterday. A big milestone for HaysMed today as they are reporting zero COVID-19 patients, active or recovering. Doctors say we won’t know the potential effects of spring break partiers spreading COVID-19 until early April.
On today’s Morning Media Update, we updated our long-haulers clinic. Dr. Keith Sale, VP of ambulatory joined us as well as Family Medicine physician Dr. Jennifer Woodward who is seeing success with COVID-19 patients managing their illness by monitoring their oxygen levels at home. She explained how that works and what it means for patients.
Before diving into today’s topic, doctors discussed several important issues. With more and more states considering easing restrictions, doctors are very nervous. They pointed out COVID-19 numbers are rising in 22 states, and with so few people vaccinated, they warned that easing up now would be like fumbling the ball on the one-yard line. They urge governments to wait another 4-6 weeks when a whole lot more people will have been vaccinated.
They also discussed the latest with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Earlier this week, regulators discovered the company had not given them the most recent data for evaluation. The company admitted its error and resubmitted the latest data, which the panel said still looks very good, with a 76 percent efficacy rate in a two-dose regimen. Doctors reminded us that the FDA is widely held as the most stringent certifying body for new drugs and the world will look to see what it does with the AstraZeneca vaccine. They hope the company’s stumbles don’t stop a good drug from being approved.
Another item causing a lot of conversation is a story from Topeka in which a woman’s obituary says she died suddenly from a reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine. All the panelists expressed sympathy and said any death is tragic. While saying they don’t know enough about the woman’s medical history to be certain, they note most obituaries are written by family members, not medical professionals, and said they have a hard time believing a medical examiner would list the vaccine as the cause of death on the death certificate. They said the CDC is constantly monitoring vaccine reactions and have not reported any deaths due to the vaccine. They say COVID-19 has killed millions, but the vaccines will save billions.
Dr. Sale said the long haulers clinic at the health system has been operating very well for its own patients for some time now and is about ready to begin accepting patients from the general public. He says the key is to get a referral from your primary care physician. He explained that the clinic is for people who are still experiencing symptoms six months after COVID-19, which he says is about 20-30 percent of those with the disease. Typical symptoms are loss of taste and smell, fatigue, shortness of breath and brain fog. He added the loss of taste and smell from a virus is not new and has been noted in other non-COVID diseases for many years. The clinic offers a number of specialists to help with those symptoms, which are unique to each patient.
Dr. Woodward has referred many of her patients to the long haulers clinic and for them it’s been very helpful. She says in addition to the physical symptoms, many also have anxiety and depression. She explained what qualifies her patients for referral and says with many, constant monitoring of their oxygen levels is vital. That’s why those who meet the high-risk criteria are provided with a home monitoring device called a pulse oximeter and an app with which to report their daily oxygen levels. She says it’s important to let patients know they are being supported.
Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System, said it’s important to remember for many with these post-acute symptoms, it’s more than just waking up with an ache every day. He’s seen many long haul patients and their symptoms often affect their daily quality of life. He says that’s why it’s so important to have this multi-specialty clinic to help each patient address their unique problems and help to get them back to their normal lives. He also had advice for anyone wanting to get on an airplane two weeks after their first dose of the vaccine. He says after 12 days, you do start to get some protection, but not the full protection of two doses. He says it’s vital to keep your mask and eye protection on for the duration of the flight and in the airport.
Steve Stites, MD, chief medical officer at The University of Kansas Health System, is heading out on a week-long vacation. He said he may check in from time to time like Dr. Hawkinson did last summer. He said to keep in mind there is no such thing as the perfect treatment for this, or any virus. But he implores us to look at the data, and believe in faith, hope and science to get us through this pandemic so we can return to what our new normal will be. He says it will be a lot better than it’s been for the past year but adds we must all get vaccinated and keep observing the pillars of infection prevention.