UAB now sharing numbers on COVID-convalesced patients

Long-term hospitalizations for COVID patients

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - UAB is now sharing numbers on patients who are no longer infected with COVID-19, but are still being hospitalized due to long term effects.

UAB Hospital reports that as of 1/6/2021, they are caring for 210 patients with active COVID-19 infections. They are also caring for an additional 84 patients who are no longer carrying the virus, but still dealing with it’s effects and needing hospital care.

“Because we are testing all patients for COVID-19 on admission, we are catching a lot of people who are pre-symptomatic,” UAB Hospital epidemiologist and assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases Dr. Rachael Lee said. “They don’t have symptoms and then they develop symptoms.”

Dr. Lee said the patients are called COVID-convalesced. She said someone can be considered a convalesced patient for many different reasons.

“There are a few who are completely asymptomatic,” Dr. Lee said. “They are here for a different reason and they have recovered from their COVID-19 illness. They are here continuing to get the care that they need for the original reason they came.”

But, Dr. Lee said not all convalesced patients are recovering quickly.

“A vast majority of these cases are people that are critically ill,” she said. “They are still on the ventilator. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, they’ve developed an inflammatory response meaning your own immune system has revved up and you get scarring in your lungs. Because of that, we can’t get them off the ventilator.”

Dr. Lee said if they are eventually taken off the ventilator, patients are weak and need rehabilitation.

“The vast majority is these patients who unfortunately have a lot of scarring in their lungs and it takes time to heal,” Dr. Lee said.

The patient number at UAB is updated daily.

Copyright 2021 WBRC. All rights reserved.