Lee Health activates COVID-19 surge plan

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 18:13:24-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Lee Health explains some shocking numbers as their hospitals reach capacity. During Friday’s media briefing the CEO said their operational bed capacity is at 97 percent.

Dr. Larry Antonucci says 97 percent of operational bed capacity doesn’t mean only three percent of their total beds are available. They can’t use all of their beds given the limited staff they have right now. Overall, about 80 percent of their total beds are being used, still unprecedented for this time of year.

“For the first time in memory, we are experiencing a high volume of patients during the summer months, due to the pandemic,” he said.

Dr. Antonucci told reporters over the phone Friday Lee Health usually closes some units over the summer because the beds aren’t needed. But now, they’re seeing 35 percent more patients than they normally do.

The high capacity can also be attributed to an extended leave the health system offered several weeks ago.

They can only use as many beds proportionate to how much staff they have working. In May, Lee Health offered employees take extended leave to cut operational costs as COVID numbers declined. Antonuccis says now they’re activating the second part of their plan.

“We are working our surge plan including reducing elective surgeries, and bringing in more staff to open additional beds,” he said.

Bed capacity is at about 85 percent. One quarter of those beds are used by 300 COVID-19 patients.

Jonathan Kling, R.N. Chief Nursing Officer for NCH in Collier County joined the media call to provide updates on their facilities.

“Out of our 153 ventilators we have on hand, 12 are being used today. Nine of those ventilators are for COVID-19 patients,” said Kling.

About 37 percent of Lee Health’s ventilators are in use as of Friday. Dr. Antonucci encouraged everyone to do their part in bringing those numbers down, too.