- The rapidly increasing rate of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has forced AdventHealth in central Florida to defer new inpatient elective surgeries to avoid stretching resources too thin.
- The health system announced last week that its more than 20 hospitals and emergency rooms in the region were returning to a "yellow status," a step up from the prior green status, which indicates business as usual. The yellow status means deferring new inpatient elective surgery, adding visitor restrictions and requiring staff to wear masks even in non-clinical settings.
- About 720 people were hospitalized throughout the central Florida system as of Thursday, below the peak of 900 in January but still concerning for health system leaders.
The latest move to curtail elective procedures in central Florida is a troubling sign in the fight against COVID-19, more than a year after hospitals first put off such services in an effort to keep resources available to fight the pandemic.
AdventHealth leaders expressed their unease about the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Florida, nearing levels seen during the peak of the pandemic.
"The rate of rise is somewhat concerning. We are now seeing about the fastest rate of increase that we have seen during the course of this entire pandemic," Neil Finkler, chief clinical officer for AdventHealth's Central Florida Division, said during a press briefing last week.
He pointed to the delta variant, a highly contagious strain of the disease, as the likely reason for the rapid rise in cases.
In addition to deferring new inpatient elective surgeries, any surgery that requires an intensive care unit bed must be approved by both the chief medical officer and chair of the campus department, Finkler added.
The status change will not affect outpatient or pediatric surgeries.
"We'll continue to monitor the situation and we will make necessary changes based on how things change based on our COVID numbers, and our capacity," Finkler said.
He said the vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. Leaders around the country are pleading with people to get vaccinated. About 60% of the adult population in the U.S. is fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
President Joe Biden wanted 70% of adults to receive at least one vaccine dose by July 4. The administration missed that target, but as of Sunday, 69% of the adult population had one dose, nearly reaching the earlier goal.
The country is averaging 47,455 new cases per day, according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Areas with low vaccination rates are seeing a rapid rise in cases and hospitalizations. Hospital leaders in Springfield, Missouri, are also seeing rising caseloads. For the first time throughout the entire pandemic, a hospital there had to begin diverting patients to larger metro areas as it does not have enough nurses to meet the demand.
A growing number of hospitals, health systems and professional health organizations are now calling for healthcare workers and employees to get the vaccine. Some are urging providers to require employees to get the jab.