How one Houston hospital's ICU unit is treating COVID-19

The search for the most effective COVID-19 treatment continues across the globe. So far, researchers continue working on a vaccine, while local hospitals use their own methods to help patients in need.

In a recent visit to Houston’s United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC), medical workers showed us how they’re treating patients. According to UMMC Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joseph Varon, their goal is to avoid putting patients on ventilators as much as possible.

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For more than 100 days, doctors and nurses at UMMC have treated dozens of COVID-19 patients. According to Dr. Varon, they’re optimistic about some of their treatment methods.

“We’re becoming a COVID Center for excellence,” said Dr. Varon. “If you have a problem with COVID, you come to us.”
So far, Dr. Varon seems most optimistic about a treatment method called “MATH+ Protocol”.

“We’re trying to educate as many people as we can [about MATH+] because we think it’s working,” said Dr. Varon.

Dr. Varon showed us images of lungs from people sick with COVID-19. These patients were treated with MATH+, and the amount of Coronavirus in the lungs decreased dramatically. “What I do works,” said Dr. Varon.

In addition, staff members at UMMC are trying experimental treatments for COVID-19 patients that agree to the potential risk. After more than 100 straight days of working on those sick with the Coronavirus, only one nurse at UMMC has tested positive for COVID-19 so far. Tanna Ingraham, an ICU nurse at UMMC, started noticing symptoms after she lost her senses of taste and smell.

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According to Dr. Varon, Ingraham is part of a new experiment involving stem cell therapy to treat her COVID-19 symptoms.

“I don’t necessarily call it a being a guinea pig,” said Ingraham. “It’s innovation. He asked me if I’d participate and I said absolutely.”

So far only a handful of studies have taken place across the United States involving stem cell therapy and COVID-19.

“[The stem cells] go to the area of your body that is having problems, in this case it’s the lungs, then they regenerate in that area,” said Dr. Varon.

According to Ingraham, she isn’t sure if she received a placebo or the actual stem cell injection, but she is feeling better. Dr. Varon says the stem cells used are from healthy donors that don’t have Coronavirus.

“Oh we try everything,” said Dr. Varon. “We throw in the kitchen sink trying to get them out [of the hospital].”