Hundreds of patients with coronavirus have recovered, left UCHealth hospitals

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AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — UCHealth said Tuesday that more than 370 patients with COVID-19 infections have recovered enough to be discharged from UCHealth hospitals after admission for COVID-19 infection, while about 250 patients continue to receive care.

UCHealth said it has tested 10,500 people for the coronavirus, along with expanding testing for first responders and other health care workers.

Read More: Live Blog: Updates on coronavirus in Colorado

UCHealth said the recovered patients were from the following locations:

  • UCHealth’s southern Colorado hospitals- over 50 patients
  • UCHealth’s metro Denver hospitals- nearly 200 patients
  • UCHealth’s northern Colorado hospitals- 120 patients

“We celebrate each and every time one of our patients recovers,” said Jessica Yoo, a nurse and house supervisor at Memorial Hospital. “Seeing patients go home and be reunited with their loved ones gives us renewed energy and optimism.”

“Our numbers of hospitalized patients remain near record highs, however, we’re beginning to see some positive trends. The rate of increase of new cases has slowed, and our number of hospitalized patients is growing more slowly, but it is essential that Coloradans continue to practice social distancing. The minute we let up, we will likely see cases spike again,” said Dr. Richard Zane, UCHealth chief innovation officer and emergency services executive director.

UCHealth said one of the recovered patients, Hakan Karan, a husband and father from Colorado Springs who was admitted March 25 to Memorial Hospital North with COVID-19, spent a week on a ventilator before being extubated and was released to go home the afternoon of April 10.

The attached photo features him with some of the members of his care team from the ICU and the medical unit, taken about an hour before he went home.

Dr. William Pease remembers his first COVID-19 patient release.

“When we extubated him, it was just a great feeling. Everyone in the ICU was clapping,” he said, adding, “Now we’re getting a couple of patients exhibited a day and it still feels pretty good when we get a win.”

Jack Higgins, 31, is one patient who was recently discharged.

“You just hear all the stories of all these people having these complications, being put on the ventilators, not making it and stuff. But they just comforted me so much and made me feel like I would make it through it,” Higgins said of health care workers.

Higgins had no pre-existing health issues. He came into the ICU two weeks ago with a 105-degree fever.

“It hits you hard and it’s scary,” Higgins said. 

Higgins’ wife Emily is 36 weeks pregnant.

“Gosh, I had some really bad breakdowns and thought he wasn’t going to make it,” Emily said, adding, “The way they were making it sound, he was so close to being on a ventilator. And if it came down to it, they wanted to know if we wanted to revive him.”

“They were like, ‘You are going to have a baby, you are going to get past this,’ and that gave me the strength to not give up,” Higgins said.

Higgins credits health care professionals for saving his life.

Doctors like Pease are hopeful they can help others leave feeling the same way.

“It feels like we’re getting closer, so as time goes on, I think we’ll see a lot more success cases,” Pease said. 

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