Joliet-area hospitals see few COVID-19 patients despite rise in cases

Despite concern about the increase in Illinois' positivity rate, the cases of coronavirus are low at two Will County hospitals, and neither has any recent deaths due to the virus.

Ruth Colby, CEO at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, and Dr. Gary Lipinski, chief medical officer at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, both reported low numbers on Thursday.

Colby said Silver Cross had five patients that tested positive for covid and six additional patients that were waiting on results. None of the patients were in the ICU for covid and Silver Cross had no covid deaths in at least the last 24 hours.

“My suspicion is that we’re seeing younger people contract this COVID-19 virus and they’re healthier,” Colby said. “We’re not seeing nursing home outbreaks and we’re not seeing people with multiple comorbidities. They’re younger, healthier and don’t need hospitalization.”

Lipinski said AMITA Health Saint Joseph had eight patients positive for covid and two were on ventilators. The hospital has not had any covid deaths in the last couple of weeks, he added.

Still, Lipinski is concerned about the uptick in cases in other places in the United States., especially Wisconsin and Indiana, and wants to be prepared if cases explode again in Will County.

He also feels Will County will see another wave of the virus this fall during flu season as “these types of viruses tend to get more active in the fall,” he said.

“We are always waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Lipinski said.

Lipinski said the Joliet hospital has the ability to move patients to other hospitals in the AMITA Health system if needed, which did occur during the coronavirus peak in the spring.

“We’ve had no lapses in PPE or in hand sanitizer,” Lipinski said. “We’ve gotten our supplies when we needed them and we really have not had shortages in testing.”

Colby is a little concerned Will County might see a testing shortage as tests are diverted to parts of the United States with bigger outbreaks.

But Silver Cross currently has plenty of tests, as well as facemasks and PPE, she said. Silver Cross is strict on its screening procedures at the hospital and “very strict” about people wearing facemasks, she said.

“We’re following the positivity rate very closely,” Colby said. “We’re not seeing a rise in the number of patients needing to be admitted. It’s gone down. We’re really holding our own.”

Colby said Silver Cross has discharged 467 total patients who were covid positive.

“The majority of people who have come here and have had to be admitted went home safely,” Colby said.

Both Colby and Lipinski stressed the importance of wearing facemasks. Colby feels facemasks have helped keep the positivity rate down in Will County.

Lipinski, on the other hand, would like more compliance. He still sees people out in the community not wearing masks and congregating in close proximity.

“By all means, we have not conquered this disease,” Lipinski said. “We still have to be vigilant.”