Overwhelming the hospital system will increase the COVID-19 death rate

Posted at 6:21 PM, Nov 17, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Through the success of the medical community, the death rate from COVID-19 has decreased. But maintaining that low mortality rate involves preventing hospital systems from becoming overwhelmed.

“We understand it better. We understand the course better. We understand interventions and how to time them,” Dr. Sanjay Sethi, Professor and Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at University at Buffalo, said.

There are two drugs doctors are now using, combined with different ventilator usage, that are driving the COVID-19 death rate down. But doctors said the successful medical practices can only continue if the hospital system does not get overwhelmed.

"The level of care unquestionably will decrease and as a result, mortality and bad outcomes certainly will increase," Dr. Thomas Russo, the Professor and Chief of Infectious Disease at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at University at Buffalo, said.

Western New York's health care system will become overwhelmed if there are simply too many COVID cases to handle.

"It's both about physical resources in terms of beds and personal protective equipment that protects our health care providers and then the strain and toll on the health care providers themselves," Dr. Russo said.

"It's not just the system. It's the people in the hospital. Exhaustion sets in," Dr. Sethi said.

"You get burned out. In some cases, you're exposing yourself. You're working with staff that's working with patients coming into the building. We're trying to follow as many protocols but you're going to be at risk and we've seen a lot of doctors also get infected at this time," Dr. Raul Vazquez, a doctor at Urban Family Practice, said.

All three doctors said we must all do our part to prevent the health care system from being put in that position.

"The message still is slow the spread the best we can," Dr. Sethi said.

"I know we're tired. Everybody is tired of COVID. The holidays are coming up. Stick to what you've been doing so far. Hand washing is crucial. Masks are very crucial. Social distancing is very crucial," Dr. Vazquez said.

"The likelihood that you'll get infected now is much much higher than it was in the summer," Dr. Russo said.