Lee Health hospitals at 99% staffed bed capacity

Published: July 22, 2020 4:14 PM EDT
Updated: July 22, 2020 5:59 PM EDT

Lee Health hospitals were at 99% staffed bed capacity on Wednesday. It was at 100% Tuesday as doctors are admitting our neighbors faster than we’ve ever seen. Although the hospitalizations graph shows the numbers dipped in early June, right now we’re at the highest point in the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, 24% of beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients, with 24 new COVID-19 admissions on Tuesday. Lee Health also said Wednesday that a total of 1,660 COVID-19 patients have been discharged since the beginning of the pandemic.

Scott Kashman, Lee Health’s chief of hospital operations, said that while 99% and 100% capacity sounds scary, it’s no cause for alarm. These are typical of the numbers Lee Health sees during season, so they’re working on bringing back staff members who are currently on sabbatical.

“We know that when it comes to the season that we would be able to ramp up to over 1,500 patients, so today we had over 1,292 patients in the hospital,” Kashman said. “We know that we would have the ability, if we were seeing the trends, to get up to a little over 1,500 patients we could have in the hospital. Keep in mind the majority of the patients who are being treated for coronavirus are not staying in the hospital.”

Kashman said the hospital is like any other business in the sense that you don’t want to have too much staff standing around doing nothing, so they’ll monitor the numbers closely and keep bringing on more staff as we head into the season.

“Since we’ve seen the rise in cases over the past several weeks is bringing staffing up to the level that we need,” he said.

That’s a stark difference from a couple months ago when Lee Health asked staff members to go on sabbatical – or leave entirely.

“That was really an effort to make sure that we were saving jobs because you just saw a huge drop in census.”

In the hospital, Dr. Luis Apante said he and the rest of the staff take the capacity numbers seriously.

“When there’s not staff, the care becomes a little bit more challenging because the load on physicians and nurses are a little bit more than usual.”

But, right now, even at 99% to 100% staffed capacity, he said Kashman is right.

“I think the conditions right now are still to a point where the care being provided is standard of care,” Apante said.

Lee Health is expected to receive more remdesivir Wednesday. They received a 16-day supply on Tuesday. The drug has been shown to help COVID-19 patients. Lee Health is expecting an additional shipment on Monday.