Last month the
Chesterton Tribune requested from the Porter County Health Department
specific categories of data on COVID-19 hospitalizations in the county: the
total number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began here, the total
number of patients treated in ICU, the average length of stay, and
demographics on hospitalized patients.
Those data the
Health Department ultimately did not provide to the Tribune, although
a spokesperson did offer certain broad-brush generalizations and anecdotal
information which found their way into a July 7 story headlined “What we
know and don’t know about the COVID-19 pandemic in Porter County.”
In fact, however,
those data are readily available, as the Tribune has learned from
Duneland School Board Member Tom Schnabel, who along with his colleagues has
been carefully tracking the progress of the pandemic in Porter County as the
School Board prepares learning and safety policies for academic year
Thanks to the
Regenstrief Institute of Indianapolis, we know a great deal more about the
local COVID-19 pandemic than the Health Department’s dashboard--as excellent
as it is--has told us.
Institute is affiliated with the IU School of Medicine, the IU Richard M.
Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI, Purdue University, and IUPUI.
Its mission statement, according to its website: “to connect and innovate
for better health” and to “envision a world where better information
empowers people to end disease and realize true health.”
To that end,
Regenstrief has compiled COVID-19 hospitalization data--among other
things--from all 92 Indiana counties, and what the data tend to show is that
Porter County is mirroring closely the statewide data on unique
hospitalizations, unique ER visits, and ICU admissions.
On other hand, the
average Porter County COVID-19 patient appears to be healthier overall than
the average Hoosier, with fewer co-morbidity factors, since the average
length-of-stay (ALOS) in hospital here--in ICU, in non-ICU, and overall--is
significantly shorter than the statewide ALOS.
suggest one more thing as well: although it’s true that most persons in
Porter County who test positive for COVID-19 never set foot in a hospital,
those who do will want health insurance.
data lag behind the Porter County Health Department’s by several days:
-- Unique ER
visits: As of Monday, 214 of the 872 persons in Porter County who’ve tested
positive for COVID-19 visited an emergency room, or 24.5 percent (statewide
-- Unique patient
hospitalizations: 128 of the 872 have been admitted to hospital, or 14.7
percent (statewide 14.9 percent).
-- ICU admissions:
22 of the 872 have been admitted to ICU, or 2.5 percent (statewide 3.2
Average Length of
provides data on average length-of-stay in days (ALOS) in three different
categories: overall ALOS, ALOS in ICU, and ALOS in non-ICU. In each
category, Porter County’s ALOS is substantively shorter than the state’s,
indicating generally healthier patients with fewer pre-existing conditions
in Porter County:
-- Overall ALOS:
10.6 days (statewide 22.1).
-- ALOS in ICU: 9.1
days (statewide 15.8).
-- ALOS in non-ICU:
10.7 days (statewide 23.2).
As to be expected,
as of Monday nearly all persons hospitalized for COVID-19 in Porter County
have been in the older demographics: 98 were 50+, or 77 percent of the
total. Statewide, the proportion is nearly exactly the same: 75 percent of
all persons hospitalized have been 50+
persons hospitalized in Porter County--or 23 percent of the total--have been
younger than 50 (25 percent statewide).
those--or 12.5 percent--were in the 40-49 demographic (statewide 12
14--or 11 percent--were younger than 40, without any specific demographic
breakout. “To maximize patient privacy, counts below five will appear
blank,” Regenstrief states. That would mean, though, that these 14 patients
are more or less evenly distributed among the 0-19, 20-29, and 30-39
We do know, on the
other hand, the ALOS for each of the demographics in Porter County, which
again prove to be far shorter for any given demographic than the statewide
-- 0-19: overall, 3
days; ICU, 3 days (statewide 8.6 and 17.9 respectively).
-- 20-29: overall,
13 days; ICU, 2.3 days (statewide: 15.7 and 15.4).
-- 30-39: overall,
6.5 days; ICU, 2.0 days (statewide: 16.2 and 11.9).
-- 40-49: overall,
8.6 days; ICU, 10.6 days (statewide: 23.2 and 15.5).
-- 50-59: overall,
8.8 days; ICU, 16.7 days (statewide: 27.1 and 21.5).
-- 60-69: overall,
11.2 days; ICU, 4.6 days (statewide: 25.3 and 18.1).
-- 70-79: overall,
11.7 days; ICU, 7.0 days (statewide: 22.0 and 16.1).
-- 80+: overall,
9.6 days; ICU, 8.3 days (statewide: 16.1 and 10.3).
The point of these
numbers is roughly this: the chance of COVID-19 making any infected person
sick enough to be hospitalized is--all things being equal--one out of seven.
All things, of course, aren’t equal, with seniors far more likely to be
admitted to hospital, to stay longer, to be in ICU, and to die than younger
Fair Health, an independent nonprofit which manages the nation’s largest
database of privately billed health insurance claims--the average cost of a
hospital stay for a COVID-19 patient without health insurance is $73,300.
That’s also the cost of a COVID-19 patient seeing an out-of-network provider
and whose health insurance plan has no out-of-network benefit.
hospital stay of a COVID-19 patient with health insurance is far less
expensive, yet still only by half: $38,221, the amount which the plan
providers have agreed to accept as full payment, some portion of which the
patient will be on the hook for, depending on the cost-sharing provisions of
his or her plan.
The questions would
be, then, as people go about their business not wearing masks, congregating
at parties, bars, and beaches: How do you like your odds, and how
comfortable are you with your health insurance plan?