EL PASO, Texas -- Doctors at University Medical Center of El Paso are encouraged by the success of new therapies to treat hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and by the decreasing number of new patients they're seeing come through their doors.
The number of people being admitted to the hospital daily in El Paso County has been declining since hitting a peak at 37 in mid-July.
UMC said just this week, 17 patients were discharged in one day.
UMC's chief medical officer Dr. Joel Hendryx spoke to ABC-7 about the decrease in patients and the treatments for those who remain. Hendryx credits the use of Remdesivir and steroids for helping quicken recovery.
Steroid shots have been used to help lung development in premature infants.
"The steroids decrease the amount of inflammation that is occurring during certain parts of this disease process," Hendryx said. "We've learned when is the optimum time to give it, and which patients to give it to. Because if you can decrease that inflammation, then you are able to save some of that lung tissue so they are able to heal quicker and be able to go home quicker," he added.
Hendryx said the goal is to help keep patients off the ventilator since data show that patients on a ventilator have a higher risk of dying. He also believes they would be able to help more patients with convalescent plasma, which must be donated by people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies in their blood.
"Right now, unfortunately, we just don't have a lot of convalescent plasma available, so, we highly encourage those who have been exposed to please donate," Hendryx said. "It doesn't take much to give those antibodies, so we can utilize them in our hospitals to treat those individuals so they will get better quicker."
A vast majority of those who've died from the coronavirus had underlying health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.
Hendryx said as the pandemic continues, we should all strive to prevent or reverse any existing health conditions with a healthy diet, moderate exercise and rest.
And he urged everyone to keep up the use of masks in public, hand-washing and social distancing.