Florida health systems limiting nonurgent surgeries, procedures to preserve ICU bed space

MIAMI (WSVN) - With coronavirus cases now topping 200,000 in Florida, several hospitals are struggling to keep up. Some hospitals are now implementing new rules to make room for more patients.

Starting Monday, Jackson Health System is limiting surgeries and procedures to urgent and emergency cases in an effort to preserve the beds in their intensive care units.

“These huge spikes we’re seeing right now obviously mean that in a week or two, we’re going to see even bigger, more people showing up to hospitals in intensive care and on ventilators,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber.

South Florida experienced a very different holiday weekend on July 4.

There were long lines outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens for COVID-19 testing, and the beaches were empty in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The beaches were closed to visitors in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“If all of that doesn’t work, we have to consider the possibility of potentially rolling back some things, and even potentially implementing a new stay at home order,” said City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez. “Those things cannot be, you know, those are options that cannot be off the table.”

South Florida leaders, however, said they need a consistent message from the federal level — one like you would expect during the hurricane season when a storm is approaching.

“What we’re hearing from Washington is something totally different than what we’re trying to tell people right now,” said Gelber, “and that mixed message can be awful, because if you’re out there and you want to wear a mask and say, ‘Oh, it’s hot and it’s odd, and I don’t want to do it. Then, the President of the United States has a big rally Friday night where nobody is wearing masks and nobody is social distant from one another, why should I do it?'”

Florida reported 10,059 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday bringing the state’s total to 200,111.

“It’s a very, very difficult time right now,” said Suarez. “We had three essentially record-breaking days early this weekend and before this weekend, so we’re hoping that some of the measures we put into place start to really, really flatten the curve again.”

Jackson Health System has seen a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 patients being admitted.

“Back in March, we shut down electives,” said Jackson Health President and CEO Carlos Migoya. “The biggest issue that we had at the time was the shortness of PPE, and it was not a shortness of beds at that point.”

“When they realize how lethal this can be, if  enough people get it, in particular people who are vulnerable, and even young people —  we now have a couple of young people dying — then I think that will really, really send the message,” said Suarez.

Memorial Healthcare System said they too will pause any procedures that are not urgent or emergency in nature.

Baptist Health has also paused their elective procedures in some of their hospitals if patients require an overnight stay.

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