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Santa Barbara - South County

Cottage/Sansum ID doctor addresses use of ventilators and political conspiracy theory

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Local doctors are monitoring COVID-19 trends in other states and in Europe. Infectious Disease expert, Dr. David Fisk, who works at both Cottage Hospital and Sansum Clinic, said Cottage Health is anticipating a rise in cases here at home.

"Our team is also preparing in terms of maximum readiness and preparation for likely worsening of COVID in the coming weeks and months," said Fisk.

Fisk addressed the use of ventilators with anchor/reporter Beth Farnsworth and, one specific conspiracy theory ahead of Election Day. 

“Actually, most patients with COVID in the U.S. who go on ventilators do not die," said Fisk.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been questions about when it's best to put a patient on a ventilator.

“I would say the use of ventilators throughout the COVID pandemic and the optimal timing of when to start them and how to use them is controversial and debatable."

Seven months deep into the pandemic, a debate over the mechanical breathing apparatus rages on. Some critics have claimed it is a last and often fatal step. 

"That is not necessarily true and our statistics here at Cottage do not show that that's the case," said Fisk. "I would say at Cottage all along our team here has been very aggressive at trying to keep patients off of ventilators."

Fisk said that goes for any illness. 

Numbers submitted to our newsroom by Cottage Health show that 262 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital from March 1 to October 1. Of those, 51 patients required ventilators -- their average length of stay was nearly 24-days. 

Cottage did not disclose how many of those patients survived and how many did not. 

Fisk said many local patients who did not respond to other types of supplemental oxygen -- like nose masks or nasal tubes -- were saved by the use of ventilators. 

“So, it really is a testament to the training and skill of the physicians who use the ventilators to do that appropriately and wisely."

Another part of the ongoing debate deals with conspiracy theories. We posed one to Dr. Fisk: 'Pandemics only occur during an Election year.'

He said not true, pandemics are "random." 

"No coordination. Pandemics happen when they happen and we know that pandemics are, unfortunately, a normal part of human history and this outbreak is nothing more than an event, a by-product of the interaction of humans in crowded spaces and the fact that we breathe and viruses are prone to get into our system and we can breathe them on others."

Fisk added, "We are unfortunate witnesses to a challenging time in the spread of viral organisms."

"No politics involved?" asked Farnsworth.

"No, the virus is not political," said Fisk. 

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3.

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