Central Florida hospital staff ‘spread thin’; elective surgeries and guests being limited

Central Florida’s hospitals are making changes after record COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations were reported over the weekend. 

Orlando Health, Halifax Health, and AdventHealth have all exceeded their previous pandemic peaks as cases continue their rapid rise. Healthcare heroes are facing a wave of COVID infections at levels never seen before. 

"Our nurses and physicians are exhausted," said Chief Nursing Officer of AdventHealth Lynnette Johnson. 

Handling the spike in cases is taking its toll on staff from AdventHealth to Halifax Health.

"We have staff that are out with COVID exposure or COVID-related illness so, between that and the increased COVID numbers, our staff are spread thin," said Halifax Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Margaret Crossman. 

Halifax Health saw its COVID-19 cases double in less than two weeks, bringing their total hospitalizations to nearly three times higher than its previous peak. 

"For our COVID admissions, there are probably one in four that are requiring mechanical ventilation," Crossman said. "It’s still serious and it’s largely happening in the unvaccinated."

Halifax is limiting overnight hospital stays for elective surgeries and bringing in more nurses to help manage the spike. Halifax and AdventHealth are limiting COVID-19 patients to only virtual guests. 

Advent is also limiting non-COVID patients to one visitor a day with some exceptions to those under 18, obstetrics, pediatrics, and end-of-life situations. They are also deferring all non-emergency surgeries. 

"We’re taking these measures to make sure our hospitals don’t run out of space or run short of critical clinicians who are the front lines," Johnson said.  

Hospital staff believes cases will continue to get worse over the next couple of weeks. Dr. Crossman is encouraging people to get the vaccine. For those who are vaccinated, she advises masking up in crowded, indoor spaces to prevent carrying and possibly passing the virus to those who aren’t.

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