ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — After nearly a year on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic, Northwest Community Hospital discharged its 2,000th COVID patient.

Doctors, nurses and hospital staff lined the halls cheering and congratulating the patient on his way out the door earlier this month.

“Too much of what this staff hears on a daily basis and what they deal with is not the ones who recover and leave, but the ones who are there for an extended period of time and the ones that don’t survive,” said Dr. Alan Loren, chief medical officer at Northwest Community Hospital. “That’s what’s hardest on the staff and so we need to remind them that it’s really a small percentage.”

Loren told WBBM the vast majority of COVID-19 patients do get better.

“Everyday you’re hearing how many thousands of people got the disease, how many thousands have died of it, and so people wonder ‘who’s getting better?’. We’ve had 2,000 patients that we’ve treated just for COVID, that came in, weren’t sure they’d survive and went home,” Loren said.

Northwest Community Hospital was one of the first to treat coronavirus disease in Illinois.

“We had patients number three and four at Northwest from Illinois back at the end of February, so we’re very close to a year from when this all started for Northwest Community Hospital and for Illinois,” Loren said.

Since then, treatment and safety protocols have significantly improved.

“We understand the virus much better, we understand how it’s transmitted from person to person and we’ve done a lot of things to mitigate that. In addition, there are other medications that were not available that we weren’t aware of when it first started, like Remdesivir. We now have that regularly available for anybody who is hospitalized and needs it and that’s made a big difference,” Loren said.

With most patients recovering from COVID-19, and a vaccine rollout underway, Loren said there’s no question the outlook is more positive.

“For the first time we feel like we’re doing something that is going to prevent this disease from spreading, from taking a toll on human life and that’s what’s ultimately going to get that under control,” Loren said.

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