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Coronavirus

With positivity rates rising, Northwestern Medicine sees increase in hospitalizations, says chief medical officer

Phlebotomist with HR Support prepare tests at the free drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at DeKalb High School Tuesday morning. The testing by HR Support is offered through a partnership of the Illinois Department of Public Health, the DeKalb County Health Department and DeKalb Community School District 428.
Phlebotomist with HR Support prepare tests at the free drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at DeKalb High School Tuesday morning. The testing by HR Support is offered through a partnership of the Illinois Department of Public Health, the DeKalb County Health Department and DeKalb Community School District 428.

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DeKALB – With the positivity rates on the rise throughout the region, Dr. Michael Kulisz, chief medical officer for Northwestern Medicine’s Kishwaukee and Valley West hospitals, said there has been an increase in COVID-19-related hospital admissions at Kishwaukee Hospital in DeKalb.

“The number of admissions average from the low single digits to the low teens, but we have seen an increase in admissions in the last two weeks,” Kulisz said. “A hospital admission is when a patient stays in the facility for a period of time before they can be discharged. It does not include emergency room visits.”

Kulisz said the numbers have “increased recently as it relates to the average normal daily census.”

"Yes, there is an increase, but we are well within our capacity to manage," he said. "There are plenty of beds and ICU rooms available. We have learned so much through this pandemic. We are even better positioned to respond than where we were in March."

Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are on the rise across the state, with numbers echoing those not seen since early June.

The North region (Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties) has seen eight days of positivity increases and three days of hospital admission increases, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Friday. The region's positivity rate increased from 10.3% to 10.6%, still the highest rate of any of the state's 11 regions. Currently, 31% of medical/surgical beds and 39% of ICU beds are available.

Kulisz said possible reasons for the increase in cases include colder weather leading to proximity indoors as well as people growing used to mitigation measures and becoming lax about health and safety precautions.

“It’s important to bring the numbers down by practicing social distancing, hand-washing and wearing a mask,” he said. “If you do feel ill, isolate yourself and contact your medical care provider to either be tested or evaluated.”

At the start of the month amid further mitigation measures imposed on DeKalb County's health region, which includes Sauk Valley and Rockford, county officials said group gatherings, including weddings, parties and backyard barbecues, also were contributing to the local resurgence in cases.

Kulisz also wants to reassure the public that the hospital is a safe place to come to if they need medical care.

“Precautions have been put into place against COVID, and people should seek medical care if indicated and if necessary.”

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