Cottage Health’s Dr. David Fisk discusses treatment and hospitalization
This is the second in a series on COVID-19.
It takes a steroid to treat severe cases of COVID-19.
At least, that’s what doctors know so far.
Dr. David Fisk, Cottage Health’s medical director of infection prevention and control, told the News-Press that dexamethasone, a steroid, remains the only effective therapy for severe cases, according to a high degree of evidence.
That’s one example of the many things that have been learned about COVID-19 since the early days of a pandemic that has shaken the world, the U.S. and Santa Barbara County.
Dr. Fisk, who’s also an infectious disease physician with Sansum Clinic, said research has shown that roughly half the COVID-19 transmission occur the day or so before someone has symptoms.
“The evidence we have now is most people seem to stop being able to transmit the virus after nine days of illness,” he said.
Dr. Fisk explained that has led to revisions in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for topics such as quarantines.
Dr. Fisk said science also has learned COVID-19 isn’t only a respiratory infection. Other parts of the body are affected as well.
“We’ve also learned more about how lethal it is,” he said.
Dr. Fisk noted COVID-19 can infect and harm people of any age, but leaves its biggest impact on the elderly. “Our greatest crises of COVID in Santa Barbara has been in our congregate and skilled nursing facilities. Those are the most vulnerable populations so far.”
Dr. Fisk noted Cottage Health, which has hospitals in Santa Barbara, Goleta and Solvang, is doing well with keeping conditions safe and clean and is successfully separating COVID-19 patients from others.
“I could talk to you for about an hour about the things that we’re doing to keep the hospital safe,” he said.
“We have separate, designated areas within the hospital for patients with COVID,” Dr. Fisk continued. “They are not mixing with the general patient population. There’s separate airflow to the units that are taking care of patients with COVID. There are dedicated staff working in those units, and they’ve done absolutely heroic work, making these units very highly respected for the quality of care they are providing.
“We’ve had the ability to increase the number of quarantine areas and decrease the number over time as our census changes,” Dr. Fisk said.
“Parts of the hospital under renovation for other purposes were quickly redirected, reopened or repurposed to be floors that could care for COVID patients or general patients, freeing up other parts of the hospital for COVID,” he said.
“The visitor restrictions are in effect,” Dr. Fisk said. “We are only allowing visitors consistent with the health officer order that we receive from the county and the state.”
Dr. Fisk said visitors, who wear masks, are limited to seeing only certain categories of patients, such as pediatric patients or those receiving end-of-life care.
Dr. Fisk said Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital is showing a lower death rate among COVID-19 patients in its intensive care units than those at many other facilities in the U.S. He attributed the lower death rate to Cottage Health’s talented staff.
Dr. Fisk said Cottage Health continues to maintain high levels of cleanliness, but noted there are no special protocols for cleanup after a COVID-positive patient is in a particular area.
“We’ve learned there is very little of this that seems to be acquired from surfaces such as bedside tables or a door knob,” Dr. Fisk said, noting COVID-19 is spread through the air.
Thursday: The COVID-19 series concludes with a look at testing.