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After Holiday Surge, N.H. Hospitals See Reduction In COVID Patients

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The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state is trending downward, giving hospital staff some relief after seeing record patient numbers during the winter holidays.

After peaking at 322 adults hospitalized with confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide on Jan. 2, there were approximately 254 people hospitalized with the novel coronavirus as of Jan. 19. That’s still nearly twice the number of concurrent hospitalized patients that New Hampshire facilities saw in April and May during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Scroll down or click here for more details on the changes in COVID-19 hospitalizations in facilities across the state.)

“Things are significantly improved over the past week and a half,” said Dr. Greg Baxter, president of Elliot Health Systems in Manchester. “But I would say we are all in a bit of a stressed position.”  

SolutionHealth, which operates both Elliot Hospital in Manchester and Southern New Hampshire Health in Nashua, is currently treating approximately 40 patients with COVID-related conditions, according to Baxter, down from a peak of nearly 75 earlier this month.

The hospital continues to operate in a “yellow” capacity, said Baxter, meaning only a limited number of elective or pre-scheduled procedures are taking place at the moment. 

According to federal data, New Hampshire's intensive care units are seeing a slight reprieve: At the start of this week, 44 adult patients were being treated with intensive care for COVID-19, down from a peak of 70 on Dec. 22. Still, the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs statewide is about double what it was two months ago, prior to the recent surges.

(Explore the Data: Click here for more details on COVID-19 hospitalization patterns in New Hampshire over the last few months)

In Laconia, LRGHealthcare, which operates the 25-bed Lakes Region General Hospital, is currently caring for two COVID-19 patients after hitting a peak of 13 patients earlier this month. 

“We’re also a little apprehensive, to be honest. Like, okay, are we really headed down at this point with our numbers ... or is there more to come?” said Andrea Harper, a nurse practitioner who also serves as Infection Prevention Manager for the facility.

The decreases in COVID-19 patients are not felt across the board in New Hampshire. Valley Regional Hospital, Cheshire Medical Center, Parkland Medical Center and Portsmouth Regional Hospital all reported slight increases in their weekly averages for confirmed COVID-19 patients between the first and second weeks of January, according to federal data.

(If you're having trouble viewing the chart below, try clicking here to open it in a new window.)

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.
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