ORLANDO, Fla - AdventHealth on Friday reported a new pandemic high number of approximately 1,060 COVID-19 hospitalized patients across the health care system’s Central Florida Division.
This surpasses the peak of about 900 patients the health system saw in January.
In response, AdventHealth Central Florida on Thursday moved to what it calls "black status," from "red status," which means it will defer non-emergency surgeries at hospitals throughout the division. Patients will be notified if their procedure will be canceled, a hospital spokesman said.
"Cases continue to rise sharply with no sign that the surge is beginning to decelerate," said Dr. Neil Finkler, chief clinical officer of AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division. "This important step will help us create more resources for our clinical teams, and ensure that we can continue to care for our community."
The elevation to black status also means:
- All hospital-based outpatient procedures will be deferred
- Outpatient surgery sites will only conduct time-sensitive and urgent procedures
- Time-sensitive pediatric procedures can be conducted with the approval of the chief medical officer
"We are still seeing a rise in cases every day and that has not let up," said Dr. Vincent Hsu, executive director of infection prevention and an epidemiologist. "I’m confident we are still going to see a significant number over the next week or so."
It’s striking a nerve with hospital visitors.
"We went through it the first time and now we’re going through it again and they should have took precautions a lot better precautions," said Scott Sommers.
It’s unclear how long this surge will last. Doctors are hopeful it’ll peak in August and things will be better in September.
"Unfortunately right now the slope is pretty steep and we haven’t seen the end of this. This is still coming," said Dr. Hsu.
To reduce transmission, the hospital is limiting hospital visitors, unless you’re a pediatric COVID patient or an OB patient, like Scott Sommers’ wife. She does not have COVID and is not vaccinated but plans to get the vaccine now that she has delivered.
According to officials, among the growing cases are several unvaccinated pregnant women who have developed severe COVID infections and require intubation and life support.
Doctors warn that such scenarios put the health of the baby at risk because pregnant women are more susceptible to respiratory complications and their bodies often cannot produce an adequate level of oxygen to support both the mother and the baby, even with a breathing tube. As result, some babies are being emergently delivered pre-term.
"Pre-term delivery is fairly common at the ladies we’re looking at and if they’re pre-term and go into the unit, we have to assist them with breathing," said AdventHealth chief medical officer Dr. Michael Cacciatore. "I will tell you our healthcare workers have seen a lot in the last year. We’re supporting our staff that have PTSD. We have chaplains that are available and letting them talk for a while, guys."
Presently, about 94% of COVID patients at AdventHealth are unvaccinated. The highly contagious delta variant continues to be a driver of COVID spread.
AdventHealth officials are encouraging the unvaccinated to get the vaccine. While even vaccinated people can contract the virus, the vaccine prevents them from becoming very sick, they said.
One week ago, AdventHealth reported around 700 COVID patients and announced it would be revising visitation policies and limiting elective surgeries.
Earlier this week, the hospital reported around 850 COVID patients.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Is hospital capacity at risk? A: The reason we are adjusting our status is to ensure we have the capacity in the future. Our hospitals are designed in such a way that spaces are flexible and expandable. AdventHealth has an extensive health care system in place in Central Florida so we can locate patients to the facility that best matches the level of care they need.
Q: Do you have enough supplies and ventilators? A: We have sufficient supplies of ventilators, monitors, and other specialized equipment in order to quickly convert spaces in the hospital to both standard and ICU level rooms, should they be needed.
Q: What percentage of COVID inpatients are vaccinated? A: Across AdventHealth’s nationwide system 94% of patients hospitalized with COVID- are unvaccinated.
Q: Is AdventHealth administering COVID vaccines? A: AdventHealth continues to offer COVID vaccines for the public at six Centra Care locations. AdventHealth also is offering COVID vaccines to inpatients at its hospitals throughout the Central Florida Division.
Q. Where should I go if I think I have COVID? A: Rapid COVID testing is offered at all Centra Care locations. Only go to the emergency room if you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing.
Watch FOX 35 News for the latest Central Florida headlines.