Grim milestone: 18 COVID patients die at Lee Health

Published: August 31, 2021 11:23 AM EDT
Updated: September 1, 2021 9:13 AM EDT

Eighteen COVID-19 patients died at Lee Health on Monday, the highest number of deaths since the start of the pandemic.

“We see too many of our friends, neighbors and family members, young people, otherwise healthy people on ventilators, who are dying,” Lee Health CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci said.

The patients ranged in age from 24 to 93, according to the hospital system. Only one of the patients who died was fully vaccinated.

“The amount of death our community has experienced from COVID-19 is tragic, and with the Delta variant, the coronavirus is spreading quicker and killing more people,” the hospital system said. “Today, we have 92 patients with COVID-19 on ventilators, and we know that many of them will not make it home. Most of these deaths could have been avoided through vaccination.”

  • As of this morning, Lee Health has 626 COVID-19 patients isolated in their hospitals (inpatient).
  • Of these patients, 14 of them are children being treated at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
  • Yesterday, there were 62 new COVID-19 hospital admissions and 60 COVID-19 discharges.
  • 45% of ventilators and 4% of ICU rooms are available for use. There are 92 COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 111 in the intensive care unit.
  • This morning, census was at 99% of staffed operational bed capacity.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, 927 patients have lost their lives at Lee Health hospitals to COVID-19, including 18 yesterday.

“Are we tired of hearing all the reasons why the COVID-positive patients won’t get the vaccine?” said Dr. Timothy Dougherty, who is the man in charge of Lee Health’s emergency rooms. “Or listen as they question themselves out loud, should they have gotten it sooner? Yes.”

The same is true for Dr. Stephanie Stovall, who specializes in infectious disease.

“We absolutely see a difference,” Stovall said. “If you’re vaccinated and you wind up in our hospital, you are not nearly as sick as those unvaccinated people in our hospital. And very few vaccinated people wind up in our hospital.”

These three doctors are frustrated, but they want you to know they will not give up.

“We are going to keep doing our job,” Stovall said. “That’s what we are here for, but at the same time, we want people to make good choices. There are safe vaccines that can prevent deaths.”

“Are we too tired to do our jobs? Absolutely not,” Dougherty said. “We are steadfast and unwavering and our commitment to care for this community’s needs.”

The doctors said if you are sick—if you have a true emergency—go to the hospital, and they will take care of you, but the best preventive medicine for COVID-19 is the vaccine.

Lee Health offers the vaccine to anyone 12 and older at its walk-in Community Vaccination Clinic from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at Gulf Coast Medical Center.