In Florida hospitals, 'there are only so many beds'

In Florida hospitals, ‘there are only so many beds’


COVID: In Florida hospitals, 'there are only so many beds'
Francesca Anacleto, 12, receives her first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot from nurse Jorge Tase, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in Miami Beach, Fla. On Tuesday, the CDC added more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases in the state over the previous three days, pushing the seven-day average to one the highest counts since the pandemic began, an eightfold increase since July 4. Credit: AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

A South Florida hospital chain is suspending elective surgeries and putting beds in conference rooms, an auditorium and even a cafeteria as many more patients seek treatment for COVID-19.

“We are seeing a surge like we’ve not seen before in terms of the patients coming,” Memorial Healthcare System’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marc Napp said Wednesday during a news conference in Hollywood.

Napp said they’ve opened up an additional 250 beds at Memorial’s six hospitals in Broward County.

Unlike during last year’s spring and summer COVID surges when many sick people tried to avoid hospitals for fear of catching the virus, patients suffering from other ailments are also seeking treatment now, Napp explained.

On Wednesday, there were more than 1,600 inpatients admitted for overnight stays across the system’s facilities. Typically, the health system doesn’t have more than about 1,400 inpatients under its care at a time.

“This is the highest number of patients Memorial has ever seen,” he said. “It’s the sheer number coming in at the same time. There are only so many beds, so many doctors, only so many nurses,” Napp said.

Across Florida, more than 12,000 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, and nearly 2,500 of them were in ICU beds. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases in Florida during a three-day span, raising the seven-day average to one of the highest counts since the pandemic began. In total, the state has seen more than 2.6 million cases and 39,179 deaths.

COVID: In Florida hospitals, 'there are only so many beds'
Carlos Anacleto closes his eyes as he receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Jorge Tase, as others wait their turn, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in Miami Beach, Fla. On Tuesday, the CDC added more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases in the state over the previous three days, pushing the seven-day average to one the highest counts since the pandemic began, an eightfold increase since July 4. Credit: AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

Gov. Ron DeSantis has rejected calls to enforce CDC recommendations that nearly everyone wear masks indoors until vaccination rates increase significantly. The Republican leader says deciding whether to mask up or get the shots must remain an individual choice, and meanwhile it’s important to keep Florida’s economy moving.

“Florida is a free state, and we will empower our people. We will not allow Joe Biden and his bureaucratic flunkies to come in and commandeer the rights and freedoms of Floridians,” DeSantis, who has been exploring the possibility of running for president in 2024, said in a fundraising email Wednesday night.

At Memorial, Napp said the patients being treated for COVID-19 are largely unvaccinated.

The COVID-19 vaccines were designed to prevent severe illness and death, and none are 100% effective, so public health experts have always expected a small number of “breakthrough” cases with milder infections among the vaccinated. Some of those sickened in this latest surge took all the necessary precautions.

COVID: In Florida hospitals, 'there are only so many beds'
Will Hartley, 10, Lila Hartley, 12, and Gabby Waxman hold their signs in support of masking in schools at a rally before Tuesday evening’s school board building Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021 in Jacksonville, Fla.. Around 50 people gathered outside the Duval County School Board building in support of having mandatory masking of teachers and students ahead of the school board taking up the issue in their Tuesday evening meeting. Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis has forbidden mandating masks in Florida’s public schools despite CDC recommendations to wear masks due to the recent surge of COVID-19 infections which are particularly high in Northeast Florida. Credit: Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP

Fort Lauderdale retirees Doug and Judi Custer said they did everything they were told to ward off the virus. They both got vaccinated and continued to wear masks at the grocery store, even when mandates were lifted.

So when Judi Custer, 75, got a sore throat a few weeks ago, she didn’t think much of it. Even with the cough and fever, “that never entered my mind that it could be COVID,” she said.

Her 80-year-old husband also had a cough, chills and terrible headaches. So after a friend informed her that a few people they’d recently been in contact with tested positive, she got tested for COVID at an urgent care center, just to be safe. Her husband refused.

She was shocked when the test came back positive. Her husband’s condition deteriorated rapidly. He struggled to breathe and spent five days in the hospital, where they put him on oxygen.

  • COVID: In Florida hospitals, 'there are only so many beds'
    Lori Eisenberg-Castro and her daughter, Eyla, 8, participate in a pro-mask rally outside the school board building Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Jacksonville, Fla. Around 50 people gathered outside the Duval County School Board building in support of having mandatory masking of teachers and students ahead of the school board taking up the issue in their Tuesday evening meeting. Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis has forbidden mandating masks in Florida’s public schools despite CDC recommendations to wear masks due to the recent surge of COVID-19 infections which are particularly high in Northeast Florida. Credit: Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP
  • COVID: In Florida hospitals, 'there are only so many beds'
    People line up to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, in Miami Beach, Fla. On Tuesday, the CDC added more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases in the state over the previous three days, pushing the seven-day average to one the highest counts since the pandemic began, an eightfold increase since July 4. Credit: AP Photo/Marta Lavandier
  • COVID: In Florida hospitals, 'there are only so many beds'
    Signs on all the patient doors remind staff and visitors of precautions to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in the COVID-19 ward at UF Health’s downtown in Jacksonville, Fla., campus Friday, July 30, 2021. The second surge of COVID-19 infections in Jacksonville is stretching the capacity of area medical facilities to care for patients. Credit: Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP
  • COVID: In Florida hospitals, 'there are only so many beds'
    RN Zoe Zinis puts on fresh protective layers before entering the room of an infected patient in the COVID-19 ward at UF Health’s downtown in Jacksonville, Fla., campus Friday, July 30, 2021. The second surge of COVID-19 infections in Jacksonville is stretching the capacity of area medical facilities to care for patients. Credit: Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP
  • COVID: In Florida hospitals, 'there are only so many beds'
    Wearing layers of protective gear, RN Taylor Perri prepares her equipment tray for the next patient as she works in the COVID-19 ward at UF Health’s downtown in Jacksonville, Fla., campus Friday, July 30, 2021. The second surge of COVID-19 infections in Jacksonville is stretching the capacity of area medical facilities to care for patients. Credit: Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP
  • COVID: In Florida hospitals, 'there are only so many beds'
    In this undated photo provided by Memorial Healthcare System, a conference area is shown that has been turned into a COVID-19 unit at Memorial Hospital Miramar., in Miramar, Fla. With the much more contagious delta variant now spreading exponentially, Florida hit 11,515 hospitalized patients Tuesday, breaking last year’s record for the third straight day and up from just 1,000 in mid-June. Credit: Memorial Healthcare System via AP

She started feeling better, but was concerned for her husband, a retired teacher. With hospitals now overcrowded, she was not allowed to visit him. Their daughter flew home to help.

“Continue to be cautious and careful and take all the measures you can. Even though you think you’re immune to getting COVID, you’re still vulnerable to it,” she said in a phone interview.

“It’s not just you if you choose not to get vaccinated,” she said sitting beside her husband, who is still using oxygen and slowly regaining his strength. “You are making it more difficult for other people, and to get us back to normalcy of life in our country.”

“The immunization is there. We’ve had it long enough to know it is helping people even if they get sick with it, like us you’re less likely to be put on a ventilator, you’re less likely to be hospitalized,” she said. “I wasn’t hospitalized. You’re less likely to get it as severe.”


Florida breaks record for COVID-19 hospitalizations


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