Lee Health restricts ER visitations as COVID-19 surges in hospitals
Hospital rooms in Lee Health are filling up with COVID-19 patients and staff are now saying you need to make sure you’re in an urgent situation before you head to the emergency room.
“As a result, we’re seeing many more people with the virus, and they’re coming to the emergency department, some with symptoms, but some just wanting to get tested,” said Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO at Lee Health.
Antonucci said many of the people needing a test are not where they should be.
Staff is overwhelmed and patients are risking their own health over non-life-threatening emergencies.
“That’s causing a significant strain on our emergency department capacity and capability and our ability to take care of the patients who truly need the emergency department,” Antonucci said.
For the past few days, the Lee Health Emergency Department has seen hundreds of patients a day. Some of them come in just for a COVID test as the delta variant makes itself more known. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the delta variant spreads like chickenpox.
“It’s estimated that it spreads two to three times faster and as aggressively as the original alpha variant,” Antonucci said.
On Friday, there were 238 patients in the hospital, 40 of them in the ICU.
Antonucci said if symptoms are not serious, don’t go to the hospital.
“The biggest one is going to be shortness of breath,” Antonucci said. “One of the things that we do when we assess a COVID patient or any patient with a respiratory condition is to check the level of oxygen in their blood.”
Lee Health issued a statement Friday afternoon, stating that they were restricting visitation in emergency departments until further notice:
“Due to the current capacity and the highly contagious nature of the COVID-19 delta variant, Lee Health is restricting visitation in our emergency departments until further notice. Visitors will only be granted access in the ED for compassionate care or if they are needed to gather information related to providing care (and thus allowed in the ED at the discretion of our staff). Patients in the obstetrics ED at HealthPark Medical Center will be allowed to have one visitor. This change to ED visitation is in place at Cape Coral Hospital, Gulf Coast Medical Center, HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital. At Golisano Children’s Hospital, visitation in the ED will be limited to two support people (parent/guardian/support person).”