U.S. hospitals say they are facing the pandemic’s largest surge armed with treatment improvements that allow them to save lives, care for more patients and accelerate the recovery of coronavirus sufferers.
HCA Healthcare Inc., one of the nation’s largest hospital chains with 186 hospitals, has more intensive-care capacity as the sickest patients recover more quickly. At the Mayo Clinic’s hospital in Rochester, Minn., coronavirus patients now stay a median of five days, half as long as in March. The time Covid-19 patients spend at Advocate Aurora Health’s 26 Midwestern hospitals has fallen 25% on average since May.
The shift could be a result of several factors and more study is needed, said doctors and researchers. But the results are consistent with anecdotal reports from doctors saying that new tools and a better understanding of how Covid-19 attacks the body are helping to improve medical outcomes.
Even so, surges again threaten to overwhelm hospitals, according to hospital executives and public health experts. Covid-19 patients flooding into hospitals have set national records each of the last nine days, reaching 79,410 Wednesday.
Many hospitals across the country are again scrambling to add more beds and cancelling nonessential surgery to make room for coronavirus patients. Staffing shortages are compounding the strain, limiting the number of patients hospitals can safely accept.