Lee Health counts 571 COVID patients on Tuesday; testing sites expanded

COVID numbers continue to surge in Southwest Florida hospitals. Emergency rooms are overcrowded and Healthcare workers are overworked.

Soon patients could end up staying in hallways or the cafeteria, as the situation worsens and cases continue to climb.

“The part that’s the most exhausting is that we are not seeing the relief at all,” said Heather Kingery, nurse manager in the intensive care units at Lee Health.

On Monday, Lee Health saw more than 1,200 patients in their emergency departments. Of those, 500 were COVID-related patients.

Nine people died on Monday and 128 people have died of COVID-related complications in the last 90 days. Since the pandemic began, 800 people have died in Lee Health hospitals.

On Tuesday, Lee Health reported 81 new COVID-19 hospital admissions since Monday, and 56 COVID-19 discharges. This brings the current total of patients isolated for COVID-19 to 571.

  • 571 COVID-19 patients isolated in Lee Health hospitals (inpatient).
  • Since Monday; 81 new COVID-19 hospital admissions and 56 COVID-19 discharges.
  • 52 COVID-19 patients are on ventilators and 86 in the intensive care unit. Currently, 63% of Lee Health ventilators and 29% of ICU rooms are available for use.
  • The current census is at 90% of staffed operational bed capacity.

Lee Health strongly urges everyone in the community age 12 and over to get vaccinated.

Doing so provides significant protection against serious illness even if you are exposed to the coronavirus, Lee Health said.

The need for beds continues to climb.

“Our hospitals are almost at capacity,” said Armando Llechu, chief officer of Hospital Operations at Lee Health. “Could we take another hundred 150 patients? Probably. Anything north of that I think we would start to create some different operational challenges.”

Challenges like where to put more hospital beds.

“Worst case scenario, that would be community room, cafeterias, spaces like that,” Llechu said.

Lee Health is expecting the surge to continue. Most of its hospitals are in Phase One of its surge plan.

That means patients in every possible treatment room, including an overload in the emergency department.

“We are seeing them come into our ICU and require breathing tubes within hours of arrival. We are seeing them on our max ventilators setting,” Kingery said. “We are turning them from their backs onto their stomachs for prone positioning, help their oxygenation but this is very physically demanding.”

Dr. Larry Antonucci, president and CEO of Lee Health said they can’t turn patients away.

But patients should only head to the hospital if it’s a true emergency. If someone just wants a COVID test, Lee Health is opening testing sites across the county to help accommodate for the need.

Lee Health is working with Curative, which operated the Century Link site, to open new test sites.

On Monday, a site opened near Page Field. And there are two more testing sites on the way.

More testing sites will also help alleviate the lines at urgent care centers.

“We recently entered a partnership to have testing done in our Lee Convenient Care at our Lee Health Page Field and we are going to be expanding that to other like we convenient care location so people can get testing done,” Antonucci said.

The message from Antonucci is don’t go to the ER for a test.

“All that will do is delay your care and delay the care of others who need the critical care,” Antonucci said. 

Llechu agrees.

“We wanted to be able to offer the public alternative sites to be tested so they didn’t wind up going to the ER where they might otherwise be well and be exposed to sick patients just to get tested,” Llechu said.

The new site tested close to 500 people on Monday. Testing is by appointment only. The site is offering PCR tests, which could take a couple of days to get results.

As the need for testing grows, Kingery said, so does the need to vaccinate and wear a mask in order to lower the number of positive cases.

“We had seen a light at the end of the tunnel but unfortunately, this recent surge in patients, that has gone out,” Kingery said.


To make an appointment at the new Curative site, visit here.

Lee Health provided an update on the COVID-19 situation at their hospitals and in the Southwest Florida community on Tuesday.

Watch live in the player below or click here.

If you have not yet been vaccinated, you can go to LeeHealth.org or call (239) 343-0999 to schedule an appointment.

The clinic at Gulf Coast Medical Center is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and vaccination is free. A parent or guardian must accompany a minor.


Lee Health wants to increase public awareness about the delta variant so it will be holding a virtual town hall, “COVID-19 Update: What You Need to Know,” at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 24.

The Facebook Live will be interactive and will give viewers a chance to ask questions to a panel of Lee Health medical experts.

The panel will include Larry Antonucci, M.D., MBA, president and CEO of Lee Health, Stephanie Stovall, M.D., pediatric infectious diseases specialist, interim chief of Quality & Patient Safety; and moderator Lindsey Morton, creative services manager, Lee Health. The town hall will be viewable on Lee Health’s Facebook page or website.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:WINK News
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