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Colorado hospitals in 'a better place,' seeing fewer COVID-19 patients, ER doctor says

ER doctors says we must continue social distancing
Posted at 4:47 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-11 01:17:09-04

AURORA, Colo. -- For the first time in Colorado, Denver7 is getting a glimpse inside UCHealth at University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora and hearing firsthand the struggles hospitals are facing.

The hospital is the largest in the state and is currently treating more COVID-19 patients than anywhere else.

The video provided by the hospital shows the current situation inside the emergency room, ICU and dedicated COVID-19 unit. It showed doctors and nurses wearing masks and other protective equipment throughout the hospital to treat patients.

Inside UCHealth's COVID-19 ICU

The COVID-19 unit is an area of the hospital that has been sectioned off for only patients with the virus.

"What we are seeing are patients who are presenting acute respiratory illness and then some of them are very, very sick," said Dr. Richard Zane, who specializes in Emergency Medicine at University of Colorado Hospital. "About 35%, or 40% or so, of the patients that we've admitted to the hospital have required critical care and most of those patients."

Dr. Zane said his hospitals currently does have enough ventilators, for now and are not yet having to use two ventilators per patient.

"It feels as though we've really leveled off from the number of patients who were being admitted," he said.

Dr. Zane said University of Colorado Hospital is starting to see fewer patients with COVID-19, but it doesn't mean Coloradans should let their guard down.

"Things are very urgent. I don't want to in anyway let people that think that we are out of the woods, but we are in a better place and I think we understand this disease much better," he said.

When Denver7 first interviewed Dr. Zane in late March, he told us his hospital was days, not weeks, away from running out of personal protective equipment (PPE). On Thursday he said that supply is starting to improve.

"We're in a better place. We have ample PPE to take care of our patients and take care of the community," he said. "We are definitely repurposing masks using UV light and also reconditioning."

Dr. Zane stressed while it appears Colorado is beginning to flatten the curve, now is not the time to let up the gas on social distancing.

"Remember, this virus is still in the community even though there may have been a leveling off or it might have passed the peak. It's still in the community and there still can be community spread," he said. "Social distancing is the only thing that stops or slows down the community spread."