How Northeast Florida hospitals are treating patients for COVID-19

The health system has seen success with hydroxychloroquine on a limited basis

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dr. Juan Pulido, a pulmonologist at Baptist Health, has been treating novel coronavirus patients for more than a month. He said he’s seen patients come in and get better with treatment. He’s also seen patients rapidly decline.

He said the tricky thing is trying to gauge the severity of the case as patients are admitted to the hospital.

“Is this someone that is going to have a mild to moderate course, or is this someone who is going to have a rapid deterioration that we need to be very aggressive from the beginning?” Dr. Pulido said.

He said patients with severe cases experience so much inflammation that the body’s process of filtering oxygen before it enters the bloodstream gets interrupted. When patients' conditions deteriorate, he said, oxygen stops flowing as well to the heart and brain.

Dr. Pulido said his team and the rest of Baptist Health’s health care workers are consulting their COVID-19 committee to decide how to best treat patients suffering from the virus.

“We are reviewing all aspects of research and latest and greatest technology,” Dr. Pulido said. “We are even looking at the non-FDA approved meds that are in consideration, so there is a lot happening in a short period of time in regards to how we treat these COVID-19 patients.”

He said physicians work with patients on a case-by-case basis. That includes keeping patients’ loved ones in the loop throughout the process about their condition and treatment options.

The FDA has yet to approve a treatment for COVID-19, but it’s allowing a limited use of chloroquine and the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients. These drugs can only be administered by a health care provider and are only used to treat patients without access to clinical trials.

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