Fort Myers, FLA - Lee Health tells us while the omicron variant appears to cause less severe symptoms, it spreads quicker than previous mutations.
Dr. Larry Antonucci, the President and CEO of Lee Health says, "While the omicron variant seems to be less severe it is still making patients sick and making patients sick enough to be in the hospital, to be in the ICU and to be on ventilators."
Stating since the start of this year the number of Covid-19 patients in Lee Health Intensive Care Units increased by 580% and the hospitals are also seeing staff shortages which makes for longer wait times in the hospitals.
Lee Health says on Tuesday, the hospitals saw 995 patients throughout the emergency departments. But even though that number may alarm you that's not all Covid-19 patients.... that's just the number of actual patients seen at the ER for anything.
Here's a look at a further breakdown of patients throughout the hospitals... Lee Health says for the first time since September 17th - they are caring for 317 people with Covid-19 in Lee Health hospitals.... out of 1,491 patients in their hospitals in general.
29 patients are with Covid in the ICU. Lee Health has a total of 243 available ICU beds.
As for the staffing shortages that we've seen happening across the country....Lee Health confirms they do have employees out sick with Covid.
When asking Lee Health if a shortage of healthcare workers could be from employees quitting or being fired from a vaccine mandate known as the CMS mandate which means the federal agency - Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services...we were told no deadlines have happened yet, as of today the first deadline is set for January 27th but this is currently in the courts.
Lee Health provided us with a statement on vaccine mandates...from Mary Briggs - System Director of Strategic Communications for Lee Health says quote...“As a community-owned health system, Lee Health is responsible for meeting the health care needs of our community. Over two-thirds of our patients are beneficiaries of Medicare or Medicaid. We must ensure that seniors and the vulnerable have access to health care services. Lee Health is closely monitoring the ongoing cases as the courts attempt to work out the conflicts between state and federal laws. The United States Supreme Court began hearing arguments on the CMS mandate last week. While we wait for clarity from the courts, Lee Health will follow the regulations that CMS is currently enforcing to ensure we can continue to provide access to quality health care for seniors and vulnerable individuals who rely on Medicare and Medicaid.”
Lee Health says they are temporarily suspending some elective procedures due to high numbers of Covid-19 cases.
However when reaching out to NCH Healthcare system - their spokesperson confirmed 68 NCH employees are out with confirmed Covid-19, but they are adequately staffed with physicians and nurses in all of their Emergency Departments, and at this time - have not yet suspended or canceled any elective procedures.
Both Lee Health and NCH remind you that their ER's are NOT Covid testing sites.