Lee Health reaches capacity; cancer survivor talks pandemic anxiety

Hospitals adding registered nurses and more beds
Posted at 12:30 AM, Jul 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-22 00:30:57-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla.  — Lee Health announced its hospitals have reached 100% capacity.

Doctors warn patients could experience longer than usual wait times.

“As of this morning, Lee Health hospitals are at 100% staff operational capacity, ” said Dr. Larry Antonucci.

This reflects the number of beds that have adequate staffing, not the total number of beds in hospitals.

For breast cancer survivor Holly Digilarmo, this announcement induced major anxiety.

“ What if I need a transfusion? Oh my God, there are no beds, everything full. It could be my life, it’s scary, ” said Digilarmo.

Dr. Larry Antonucci also announced the addition of 57 registered nurses, which would allow hospitals to open 50 beds by next week.

“We are working around the clock to create as much additional space in our hospitals as possible, ” said Dr. Antonucci

Digilarmo was diagnosed with cancer after losing her home in Hurricane Irma, for her COVID-19 is just another battle in a long road to victory.

“I got diagnosed with breast cancer, stage 2 in July of 2018, ” said Holly Digilarmo.

Digilarmo says she often worries about the resurgence of cancer cells, and more recently the possibility of being admitted into a hospital if diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I had six surgeries for breast cancer, two mammograms since the five months of chemo, and thirty rounds of radiation. I’m stable right now, with COVID of course, it’s scary, ” said Holly Digilarmo.

She says as a cancer patient life pre and during the pandemic has pretty much remained the same as health is a main priority.

“We’re already wearing masks. We are already washing our hands, we are immune-compromised,” said Digilarmo.

Lee Health doctors say bed capacities fluctuate from hour-to-hour.

Although they have cut down on elective surgeries, emergency departments are still well-equipped to provide every patient with the care they need.