Lee Health set to add more nurses as staffed beds reach 100% capacity

Published: July 21, 2020 3:27 PM EDT
Updated: July 22, 2020 11:00 AM EDT

During its conference call Tuesday, Lee Health confirmed its staffed beds are at 100% capacity, so additional nurses will be reporting to its facilities to open up new beds.

Lee Health is not out of hospital beds, but it has hit the maximum number of beds it can adequately staff.

Local comedian John Loeber knows just how important hospital care is. He contracted COVID-19 and ended up in the hospital but is now recovering at home. He hopes they get the additional staff they need because his nurses at Lee Health saved his life.

Loeber was isolated at Gulf Coast Medical Center after being admitted.

“The first two days I was in the hospital, I was basically saying goodbyes to people,” Loeber said. “I mean, that’s how bad I felt.”

Loeber was released from the hospital three weeks ago after receiving a blood transfusion and said he’s almost 100 percent. He also said he owes that to the nursing staff who helped him.

“I literally felt that they saved my life,” Loeber said.

That’s why Loeber is concerned to hear that Lee Health’s staffed beds are at 100% capacity and nearly 25% of those staffed beds are COVID-19 patients.

“As we’ve seen the volumes go 25 to 30% over what we were typically seeing this time of year, we realize several weeks back things were starting to escalate,” said Scott Kashman, the chief officer of hospital operations at Lee Health.

Lee Health has been working to bring in the extra help it needs.

“We’ve been able to bring people back who were on summer sabbatical,” Kashman said. “We’ve been able to bring people back from leave of absence. We have travelers who are starting to come in this week and next week so we should be in a position next week to have an additional 50 beds that we will be able to have staffed.”

Since July 6, Lee Health has added 57 registered nurses, including 20 that started Monday.

The hospital system recently received a shipment of a 16-day supply of Remdesivir, a drug currently being used to treat COVID-19 patients. More are expected to arrive Wednesday.

Lee Health is treating 322 COVID-19 patients, and it had 43 new patients as of Monday. The health system said 38 of its COVID-19 patients have been discharged.

Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted that he’s deploying 1,400 nurses to hospitals throughout the state. We reached out to see if any of them are coming to Southwest Florida and are waiting on a response.

Lee Health said it will continue to bring in more critical care nursing staff.

Loeber hopes there will be enough staff to make sure everyone receives the life-saving care he said he received.

“It was my first time ever in the hospital. I don’t have one complaint at all,” Loeber said.