Colorado Springs doctor outlines lessons learned from treating COVID-19 patients

Coronavirus

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — As hundreds of patients cycle out of Colorado’s hospital system after a successful fight with COVID-19, doctors are learning more about how to fight the disease.

“It’s interesting to see a lot of people coming in with the same disease all at the same time,” said pulmonary and critical medicine specialist Dr. Christopher Merrick. “The difference with these people is their pace of disease. We’ll have someone come in who’s been sick in the outpatient setting for days or weeks. They come in, they need a little bit of oxygen, and suddenly they rapidly decline.”

Merrick has been dealing with COVID-19 patients at UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, and says as they learn more about the disease, they’re adjusting how they treat patients.

“The biggest thing over the last month is we have not been moving towards intubation as rapidly as we were initially,” Merrick said.

One technique they’ve picked up with knowledge from the international community: using BiPAP machines as an alternative to full ventilators. 

“That’s good for the supply chain,” Merrick said. “If we’re not using ventilators, we’re less likely to run out of them.”

But they’re also noticing common complication among patients, like a propensity to develop blood clots, which needs to be studied more. And as doctors prepare for a potential second spike in the fall, they’re hopeful the things they’re learning about the disease will come in handy, and proud of seeing a majority of patients leave their facility alive.

“Most people are making it through this,” Merrick said. “That’s especially true for people who aren’t having to come to the hospital, but even those that come to the hospital, most people are making it through and returning back to their lives.”

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