Willis Knighton employees

Willis-Knighton Health System employees wait their turn for COVID-19 vaccinations.

SHREVEPORT, La. -- With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise and hospitals across the region stretched thin, one might think that morale among hospital front lines is low.

But according to Brian Crawford, chief administrative officer at Willis Knighton Health System, morale at the hospital is actually pretty good. Staff members can finally see a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

New treatments and knowledge about the virus that were not available at the beginning of 2020 have led to more positive outcomes in cases.

“The mortality rate today is less than half of what it was in the early stages of COVID,” said Crawford. “Because of a lot of the treatments that you guys have done great stories on at KTBS -- the Remdesivir, the Regeneron, the convalescent plasma -- all of those things have led to a decrease in mortality associated with the virus.”

Crawford says that the average length of hospital stays is decreasing and fewer intubations are necessary.

“The length of stay early on was two weeks. For patients, if you came in with COVID, you were going to be here for two weeks. Now the average length of stay is about three to five days, unless you're in the ICU,” he said. “And really, about half of my patients in April and March were in the ICU with COVID. Now, only about 10% of my patients end up going in the ICU, and only about 5% of those get put on the vent.”

In addition, the hospital began vaccinating its workers about a month ago, with some having already received their second and final dose.

“We know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. We have been able to start seeing that because of those things. We couldn't see it a couple of months ago. So everybody's a little encouraged by that,” said Crawford. “But make no mistake about it. The health care workers, the nurses, the doctors, the respiratory therapists, I mean, they're my heroes, they're incredible people. They've done this for 10 months. And you know, just when you think they can't do any more, they just keep pushing through.”

Crawford said the community has been very supportive to health care workers during this time. He added that there is currently a blood shortage in our area, and that giving blood would be another way to show support for area hospitals.

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