As New Jersey confronts an intense second wave of COVID-19, one key finding from the first months of the pandemic provides a note of hope: The mortality rate for patients hospitalized with the disease in New Jersey dropped from 25.3% during April to 6% in August.
New Jersey was one of the nation’s first COVID-19 hotspots, and now has a track record with this novel virus. New Jersey Hospital Association’s Center for Health Analytics, Research and Transformation (CHART) analyzed five months of COVID-19 data and identified data shifts in three key areas – patients’ age and gender, underlying health conditions and mortality – that provide a foundation of information for the current surge.
CHART’s analysis is based on data from more than 27,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations in New Jersey between April 1 and Aug. 31, 2020. Key findings include:
“I find reassurance in these findings as New Jersey hospitals hone their treatment and response to this novel virus,” said NJHA President and CEO Cathy Bennett. “They continue to write the playbook for COVID-19 treatments, and we’re seeing the results in decreased mortality among hospitalized patients, fewer patients requiring ventilators and shorter hospital stays.
“However – and I can’t say this strongly enough – New Jersey faces a difficult pandemic winter, and we cannot relax the precautions we all must take against this virus,” added Bennett.
CHART’s data shows that 20.8% of hospitalized patients in April required ventilation – use of a machine that provides supplemental oxygen through a mask – while 15.7% required more intensive intubation, which includes a breathing tube inserted into the windpipe. In August, use of those interventions had fallen to 15.7 and 3.9%, respectively.
In addition, the average length of a hospital stay for a discharged COVID-19 patient declined from 9.2 days in April to 5.9 days in August.
Identifying the reasons behind these shifts are beyond the scope of CHART’s study, but CHART Senior Vice President Sean Hopkins said they are consistent with other national research, which showed the impact of advancements in treatment methods, increased awareness that led patients to seek care earlier and improved testing as important influences.
However, Hopkins cautioned that COVID-19 remains a serious threat, especially for those with underlying health conditions.
“Hospitalized patients with high-risk comorbidities like kidney disease, heart failure and hypertension continued to experience worse health outcomes in the subsequent months after April. As COVID-19 hospitalization rates rise during New Jersey’s second wave, the presence of both COVID-19 and comorbidities remains a deadly combination for many,” said Hopkins.
The full CHART bulletin can be found at The New Jersey Hospital Association (njha.com).
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