Lee Health calling for more ICU nurses and beds as COVID cases increase

Lee Health officials are looking for more ICU nurses since the number of ICU beds are already limited due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases.

A representative with Lee Health says that just 11% of their ICU beds are available currently because of the rise in COVID-19 patients coming to the hospital.

“We are seeing a continued rise in COVID positive cases. We’re seeing a continued rise in overall hospitalizations,” said Scott Kashman, Chief Officer for Hospital Operations at Lee Health.

“When you see the overall numbers in the state of Florida rising, only that has an impact on what we see with the hospitalizations,” Kashman said.

Lee Health CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci calls this lack of ICU beds concerning.

On Friday, Lee Health’s most recent update said they have 285 isolated COVID-19 cases in their hospitals right now.

Leaders say that if we continue at this rate, Lee Health hospitals could be completely full by the end of the month. Kashman said, “We are seeing trends by the end of the month where our licensed beds could get filled up.”

The rise in ICU occupants this weekend prompted Lee Health leaders to seek more ICU staff for its multiple hospitals.

“This morning we were at 89% typically we run around 85% so we just sent out a proactive message to appropriate staff to see who was available not only tonight but really over the next several days,” said Kashman.

More recently, Lee health reported 83% of all beds are full with 22% of those being coronavirus patients. There are 247 beds in total that are available across Lee Health’s four hospitals.

But Lee Health hospitals are asking the community and its leaders to reduce positive cases thereby reducing hospitalizations.

“It’s going to take more than any law and mandate. It’s going to take people in this community to step up and take actions themselves,” said Dr. Antonucci.

This means wearing masks, social distancing, and washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, as recommended but the CDC.

“Masking, social distancing, and hand hygiene. Those three areas are ways that we found have a measurable impact on hospitalizations so when our Florida community is seeing that these cases are rising, that’s really their part to play because we can’t do it alone as a health system,” Kashman said.

Lee Health leaders also say that 70% of ventilators are available as well.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Drew Hill
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