As Florida hospitals face a surge in patients with Covid-19, they may not be able to rely on field hospitals to provide more space. And hurricanes are the reason.
Florida Division of Emergency Management communications director Jason Mahon told The News Service of Florida on Tuesday that the state is focusing efforts on expanding hospital surge capacity and not on creating alternate sites to accommodate any overflows of patients.
“Over the past several months, the state has worked continuously with local officials to monitor the need for resources to support area hospitals. At this time, mobile field hospitals consisting of tents may not be the best resource to deploy during hurricane season,” Mahon said. “Instead, our primary support strategy is to surge staff into existing facilities — opening up additional capacity in those hospitals.??”
While the Division of Emergency Management all but ruled out using alternate sites to treat patients, state Surgeon General Scott Rivkees on Tuesday twice avoided discussing whether Florida would turn to field hospitals as the number of people infected with COVID-19 continues to increase.
During a conference call of health-care executives, Amit Rastogi, CEO of Jupiter Medical Center, was the first to ask Rivkees about field hospitals and bed capacity and whether that information would be included in the state emergency status system.
“We are looking to the hospitals for guidance,” Rivkees, who serves as secretary of the Florida Department of Health, said.
Florida reported 9,194 additional Covid-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 291,629. Nationwide, the total was 3,355,457.
Statewide, 21 percent of Florida’s hospital beds were empty Tuesday, and about 17 percent of adult intensive-care unit beds were empty. In Flagler County, bed capacity was at just 4 percent today, and ICU bed capacity at 17 percent.
Alternate care sites often are opened with assistance from the federal government, whether it’s the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitals can also open alternate care sites under a broad Medicaid waiver the Trump administration authorized that allows facilities to expand their footprints beyond traditional buildings.
Florida announced in March that the state would open up field hospitals or alternate care sites in Broward, Miami-Dade and Lee counties, as well as in Jacksonville and West Palm Beach All the facilities closed without caring for patients except for a 450-bed facility at the Miami Beach Convention Center, according to the state.
Rivkees and other health officials in the DeSantis administration have had weekly phone calls with the hospital and nursing-home industries during the COVID-19 pandemic to help explain policies to providers.
Unhappy with Rivkees’ response Tuesday to Rastogi about field hospitals, another South Florida hospital executive, who did not identify himself on the phone, pressed for an answer about whether Florida was going to have alternate care sites. But Rivkees avoided answering the question.
Frustrated, the South Florida hospital executive said, “I think the answer to the question is the state does not have a plan at this point for opening up alternate care centers.”
Meanwhile at a news conference Tuesday in Miami with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya said 33 percent of the patients in his hospital were COVID-19 positive.
And despite increases in the numbers of patients being hospitalized with COVID-19, Migoya said the facility has been able to keep the overall patient census stable by taking steps such as eliminating elective inpatient surgical procedures.
“We’re comfortable that the next several weeks we can continue to do this, but we can’t do this forever,” Migoya said.
–Ana Ceballos, News Service of Florida
Field hospitals, that’s one option, otherwise, in home or find empty office space. Flagler County just sold the former FCSO location at a loss, but it had mold issues and was a former hospital location. Can’t win for losing on this can we ?
Wonderful. Florida’s state plan is more of the same — giving Covid-19 patients top priority in allocating hospital beds. Hospital executives keep asking the state for guidance. Maybe the Florida Hospital Association and the Florida Medical Society has to take the initiative and develop a plan to present to the state. But can individual hospitals in Florida actually cooperate on a public health project?
Trailer Bob says
Wouldn’t it be nice if just for one day, we could read the news without any mention of the COVID ongoing trauma?
Not saying it will or should happen, but I can say that many of us would like to read the newspapers, etc, for at least ONE day without being reminded of the horror show that is another plague of our everyday life.
We all know what is going on out there, but the constant of it all is beginning to get to people. Just for ONE day?
William Moya says
No, and, alas, i don’t even think we’re getting the full profile of the potency of this virus, you’re not going to like this, neither do I, but imagine white middle class children, back in school, getting infected…
So all of the field hospitals were closed except one in Miami. Hmm…. Why? Because this is not as bad as everyone wishes to portray it. Yes, people have unfortunately died and yes people have gotten sick. However, the fear mongering needs to stop! It is putting a mental toll on people.
Reinhold Schlieper says
Geez. Why didn’t I think of that? Stop testing, stop reading about it, stop taking care of the sick, stop publishing data on it, and rely on Trump for our future. Brilliant, Mr. Anonymous! Absolutely brilliant! Like the kid that holds his eyes shut and insists that none can see him. I’m rolling on the floor laughing about this anonymous nitwit.
All I was saying is that field hospitals have not been needed because the demand is not there, so who’s the real nitwit? I’m not saying people are not sick nor dying, but please report the right numbers! And look at the death rate which in Flagler County is 1%. There are 115,000 people in Flagler- if this was as contagious as the news media portrays it to be, a lot more people would be sick.
There an election coming up and the Democrats and their leftists allies in the media have to keep hammering away at anything and everything Republicans do or don’t do. Yes, “cases” are going up, as could be expected with the re-opening of the economy, but the death rate is actually going down as we develop more therapies to cope with the illness. A study of 2500 patients in Michigan showed that even hydroxychloroquine cut the the death rate in half for hospitalized patients. After all the ridiculing of Trump for recommending and taking the drug, there was a sudden dearth of coverage when it was proven to be effective. There is significant progress being made on a vaccine. There is hope, and, as has always been the case, the overwhelming majority of people recover, most without needing hospitalization. It’s safe to consider the glass 99.9 percent full, but the media will call be calling it empty all the way to Election Day, and beyond if it doesn’t go their way.
Exactly! How could something be good if Trump supports it? Automatic 86 of it even though it’s very cost effective and has been used by thousands upon thousands of people for autoimmune disorders and malaria.
Cases would go up regardless if it was a Democrat or a Republican in any office. The reason, people do not like being told what to do. Wear a Mask, “No it infringes on my civil liberties ” , support social distancing ” you can’t tell me what to do”. Its apparent all over the United States. CA just today has closed down again, Democratic Gov. SO its the people not supporting some rather simple guidelines, not a political party. Darn shame really.