Hospital inpatient rates plummet during pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a 10% drop in inpatient volumes in 2020 and a 31% volume drop within the first four weeks of the first reported case, according to data presented in a Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association online event.
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Inpatient volumes increased somewhat around Memorial Day, but never fully recovered to their previous levels, said David Vaamonde, vice president for data analytics at Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.
Vaamonde tracked several pieces of datum that paint a of picture of how COVID-19 impacted those in various demographics. Data show that after the pandemic began, fewer patients sought care for blood disorders, issues with the pancreas, the male reproductive system and the endocrine system. Notably, pregnancy, childbirth and perinatal care dropped as more women sought maternal treatment outside hospital settings.
Vaamonde said the drop in childbirth and infant patients was not surprising.
“We know that COVID removed some prospective mothers out of he acute setting to other settings.”
Hospitals did see increases in some types of ailments, such as treatment for alcohol and drug use, respiratory issues and infectious diseases. Again, these data points aren’t surprising, Vaamonde said.
“Alcohol and drug use went up. And COVID affects the respiratory system and is classified as an infectious disease.”
There was also a 30% decrease in the utilization of emergency rooms during the pandemic, Vaamonde said.
“We thought we’d see levels go back to the normal levels, but they never fully recovered.”
Vaamonde said the commonwealth experienced three peaks of elevated coronavirus cases in 2020: May, August and in late November/early December.
The average age of COVID-19 patients in Virginia hospitals was 67 years old. Forty-five percent of those hospitalized for COVID-19 were white and 28% were Black individuals.
The average age for those who died of COVID-19 in the Virginia hospitals was 74 years old. In all, 3,671 people died of COVID-19 in Virginia hospitals in 2020. Of those, 71% percent had hypertension, 76% had chronic kidney disease, 49% had hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and 48% had diabetes.
During the fourth quarter of 2020, 12% of those admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 died, 51% went home, 17% went home under the care of home health services and 9% were discharged to a skilled nursing facility.