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Lee Health grateful for outpouring of community support

By Staff | Apr 8, 2020

Amidst the unsettling situation the country and community currently faces, there are people making a difference for those on the front lines.

Lee Health wants to say a big thank you to local businesses and residents who have pitched in to make life easier on those putting their health on the line every day interacting with those who need care.

“In the last five days 110 local restaurants have dropped off food for our staff and frontline heroes. I don’t even know if I’ve eaten at 110 different restaurants in my life,” said Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci Wednesday afternoon. “We are so thankful for our community’s continued support and for their recognition of what health care workers are facing every day during this pandemic.

“Yesterday alone LeeSar cleaned and sterilized over 600 homemade masks that have been donated by our community. As we continue to encourage everyone to wear masks while out in public, these donations will allow us to protect our patients while saving medical-grade masks for health care workers. If you saw the Cape Coral city council meeting the other day, you may have even seen the masks myself, Chief Patient Care Officer Lisa Sgarlata and Lee Health Board of Directors Vice-Chair Therese Everly were wearing as we gave our presentations.”

Antonucci also commented on the number of newborns Lee Health has delivered recently and gave his best to new parents bringing a child into this difficult climate.

“Over the course of the year, we birth enough babies to fill a kindergarten class every day,” he said. “These babies don’t have any awareness of the unique and trying times they have been born into, and I pray they only have to experience a pandemic via stories from their parents and grandparents about what it was like the day they were born. Before working in administration, I myself started my medical career delivering babies, and I wish these growing families nothing but joy and happiness.”

Lee Health currently has 69 COVID-19 patients isolated in its hospitals. Fifty-two patients who have tested positive have been discharged.

The system has submitted a total of 4,839 specimens for testing and currently has 17 patients under investigation.

Lee Health has 193 employees quarantined at home. Nineteen employees have tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed at work, up two employees from Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Lee Health’s mobile collection sites collected 233 specimens.

They had a total of 560 telemedicine visits between Lee TeleHealth and MyChart Video.

Antonucci cleared up some details on in-house testing. Specimens are sent to Lee Health labs, which operate at all four adult hospitals. He said the turnaround time depends on the volume of samples, but that they are working tirelessly to get results to patients within 24 hours.

“As we implement the testing, we have the capacity to perform about 250 tests per day this week, and starting next week we will be able to do about 300 per day,” Antonucci said. “I want to clarify that not all specimens we collect will be tested in-house as some patients’ insurance requires their specimens to be sent to a commercial lab.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Lee Health is operating at roughly 53 percent bed capacity, 7 percent of those being COVID-19 patients.

“As we approach the peak of COVID-19 in our region, we expect to see a surge in the number of patients over the next few weeks,” Antonucci said. “While we have the beds to take care of our community today, we continue to plan for the expected surge and we will be prepared should we need to operate alternate care sites.”

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj