In West Virginia, a new research study headed by Sunil Sharma, a professor at West Virginia University’s School of Medicine, revealed that rural hospital patients who have COVID-19 and end up in an intensive care unit are more likely to die than their urban counterparts. The study breaks the assumption that, as the current pandemic continues, rural areas are still doing better than urban or metropolitan areas.

From a story on the study in The Morgantown News: “The researchers considered 81 patients who were transferred from critical access hospitals and rural facilities to an ICU at a larger hospital that offers more specialized care.

To receive a CAH designation, a hospital must have 25 or fewer acute care beds, be more than 35 miles from another hospital and maintain an average length of stay that’s less than four days.

Of those 81 patients, 50 were mechanically ventilated due to acute respiratory distress syndrome from COVID.

The control group included 31 patients who were also ventilated due to ARDS but for non-COVID reasons.

“We were so overwhelmed with COVID-19 that we had no cases of ARDS other than COVID-19,” Sharma said. “So, we took ARDS patients from a pre-COVID era as a control group with very similar amount of lung damage from ARDS.”

The team found that, overall, 54 percent of the rural COVID patients in their sample died within 30 days of being admitted to the ICU.

“In comparison, only 30 percent in urban centers were reported to have died,” Sharma said.”

To read the rest of the story on The Morgantown News, click here.