Hospitals still cautious, but encouraged by steady decline in COVID cases

Published: Feb. 18, 2022 at 8:48 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With a significant, encouraging change over the last month, Wichita’s main hospitals express cautious optimism with a decline in COVID-19 cases. A month ago, Sedgwick County saw its highest increase in COVID cases ever recorded during the pandemic. Hospitalizations were at a critical status. That is no longer the case.

“We’re definitely headed in the right direction and we’re happy to see that,” said Ascension Via Christi Chief Medical Officer Dr. Sam Antonios.

Wesley Medical Center ER Physician Dr. Brent Rockley shared a similar sentiment.

“(As far as) the influx of patients in the emergency department goes, we’ve defintely seen a downward trend, which has been fantastic,” he said. “And we’re all really thankful for that.”

Dr. Antonios said Ascension Via Christi is even starting to change some COVID-19-unit areas back into what they were originally planned for.

“WE have kind of converted a lot of the units into different settings, and now that the number of new cases are declining, we try to convert those units back to becoming the care areas for non-COViD-19 patients,” he said.

Both doctors say while the decline is promising, there are still patients in the hospital with COVID-19.

“Quite a few patients that are sick and have been there for a long time,” Dr. Antonios said. “We’re still seeing patients in the hospital who have a length of stay that are three weeks, four weeks, somewhere in there.”

Now, they’re looking ahead to how the future could look.

“It becomes a seasonal thing, it’s something that we really have to concentrate on hand hygiene, and we will probably be masking for periods of time in the future when we do have surges in that are endemic, I don’t think that’s going to go away either,” Dr. Rockley said. “But I do think, over time, this is going to become a less serious acute respiratory infection and something we can recognize and take precautions against.”

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