Sanford Health seeing fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations, officials highlight treatment options for people with positive test results

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Don’t delay in getting a COVID-19 test. 

At Sanford Health, Dr. Michael Wilde said the health system continues to administer vaccines as allocation allows, new patients hospitalized for COVID-19 are staying low, treatment options are improving but mitigation measures and testing remain high priorities.  

If you feel ill or need to be tested, please do so because we can do something to help you out.

Sanford Dr. Michael Wilde said.

Dr. Wilde said testing is more widely available and being able to identify the virus remains an important factor in the mitigation process. He emphasized people who are ill, should get tested and people shouldn’t hesitate to get tested. 

“Be thoughtful of the community you are in and those around you,” said Dr. Wilde, the vice president medical officer for Sanford Health in Sioux Falls. “Make a good decision and get tested.”

As of Friday, the South Dakota Department of Health was reporting Sanford had 34 beds with COVID-19 patients — four are in ICU and four are on ventilators. Dr. Wilde said Sanford has been dealing with “low double digits” for people currently hospitalized with COVID-19. 

“That’s good, but also understand there’s still patients here with COVID,” Dr. Wilde said. “We take that very seriously and we’d like that number to be zero.” 

After two months of steady decline, both active coronavirus cases and current hospitalizations have plateaued in the last seven days with around 2,100 active cases and 90 current hospitalizations. On Wednesday, state epidemiologist Dr. Joshua Clayton noted South Dakota reported 1,100 cases in the past seven days, a 17% increase from the prior seven-day period.

Dr. Wilde said health officials still closely watch the number of new positive cases and active cases in the state. He said Sanford continues to give COVID-19 tests for people requiring surgeries and those positivity rates remain very low. 

“In the 2 to 3 percent range,” he said. “When we were having high numbers of COVID patients, that number was above 20 percent.” 

Dr. Wilde highlighted the impact monoclonal antibody therapy treatments like BAM and Regeneron have had on helping keep patients out of the hospital as well as stopping serious illness. He said Sanford has done more than 1,000 infusions and they’ve had positive impacts. 

“Another great reason to get tested by the way. We do have a treatment if you are positive,” He said. “We have shown within our own data and then nationally as well, that is very effective in preventing hospitalization. If you feel ill or need to be tested, please do so because we can do something to help you out.” 

Throughout the pandemic, health care providers have tried “a lot of things” to combat the virus. Dr. Wilde said monoclonal antibody therapy treatments work ahead of the virus to prevent serious side-effects. 

“There’s not a good medication in the hospital that can kill the virus,” Dr. Wilde said. “Our most effective treatment right now are those monoclonal antibodies.” 

Sanford focused on finding ‘sweet spot’ in vaccine distribution 

Starting this week, allocation of the vaccine will increase to 17,600 doses per week, which is a 13.7% increase from the roughly 13,000 weekly doses it received at the start of the month and 6,000 more doses from the roughly 11,000 doses allocated during the first weeks after the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were given emergency approval by the FDA.

As of Friday, South Dakota has given at least one dose of the vaccine to 116,143 persons and 56,661 persons have completed both vaccine doses. That number doesn’t include vaccine distributed by the Indian Health Service, Veteran Affairs or the federal pharmacy program.

Starting Monday, people 65 years old and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. That group joins people considered to be high-risk patients and high-risk residents living in a congregate setting like a nursing home. Individuals can use the DOH portal to learn more about how to sign up for vaccines and the timeline for vaccinations. Next up for Phase 1D of the statewide vaccination plan will be persons with two or more underlying medical conditions under the age of 65, teachers and other school and college staff as well as funeral service workers. 

With limited vaccine supply, Dr. Wilde said Sanford is focused on making sure people are aware when they can receive the vaccine. He said the focus has been not disrespecting people seeking the vaccine with long waits. 

“We’re trying to hit that sweet spot,” he said about receiving weekly shipments of the vaccine and efficiently getting the shot into people’s arms.  

Vaccine allocation will remain at 17,600 each week or increase if more is available and other vaccines receive federal approval to increase supply. When the vaccine supply increases, Dr. Wilde said Sanford will be ready to provide more shots. 

Sanford Health health care worker

“As allocation continues to go up, we’re going to keep trying to get access to as many people as we can very respectfully,” he said. “It’s a wonderful challenge to accept and work through. The staff are very dedicated and professional.” 

Last week, state health officials said getting people the COVID-19 vaccine and emphasizing testing options will be key in stopping the pandemic. 

“I think that’s a path to more normalcy,” Dr. Wilde said. “COVID isn’t going to be cured. It’s going to be with us but, hopefully, a very minimal number of cases.” 

In the meantime, Dr. Wilde called on people to continue doing what they have been doing and encouraged people to focus on all health care needs. 

He said all the mitigation measures including masks and hand washing.

“We continue to support all mitigation measures,” Dr. Wilde said. “We look forward to keep working with the city for a good plan to keep everybody safe.”

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