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Department of Health changes COVID reporting metrics, may understate impact on hospitals

  • Like hospitals throughout the state, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon has had to delay care for non-COVID patients.  Annmarie Timmins

Monitor staff
Published: 4/1/2022 10:57:43 AM
Modified: 4/1/2022 10:56:48 AM

State health officials are changing the way they track COVID-19 hospitalizations in New Hampshire.

Instead of posting the number of hospitalized people who tested positive for COVID-19, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that going forward, they will only post the number of patients who are actively being treated for the virus. A patient is considered to be “actively treated” if they are on Remdesivir, Dexamethasone or both, the primary medications to treat COVID-19.

This will help separate patients admitted for other healthcare needs who may incidentally have COVID-19 from those who have a severe case of the coronavirus. Health officials argued this new metric, which will be called “Current Hospitalizations Treated for COVID-19.” will be a more accurate representation of how many Granite Staters develop severe their COVID-19 illness.

However, the New Hampshire Hospital Association argues that the new metric may understate the impact of the coronavirus on the state’s hospitals. Vanessa Stafford, a spokesperson for the NHHA, said hospitals still have to care for patients who remain hospitalized for COVID-19 treatment even after their infectious period is over.

“While they may not be receiving treatment for COVID, they might still require a higher level of care, such as ICU level care, as they are actively recovering from COVID-19,” she said in a statement.

Furthermore, she said that even if the patient happens to test positive for COVID-19 while being hospitalized for another reason, the hospital must still take specialized, and sometimes onerous, precautions to prevent transmission.

The two methods for reporting hospitalization rates produce dramatically different numbers. According to data from the New Hampshire Hospital Association, which still posts the number of patients that test positive, there were 27 COVID-19 patients in New Hampshire hospitals on Monday. By contrast, the Department of Health reported just seven cases, using the new metric.

Stafford maintained that the total number of people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 is still one of the most important ways to monitor the severity of illness and the prevalence of coronavirus in the state and said ther organization would continue posting the data on its website.


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