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Lee Health to resume elective surgeries

By Staff | May 1, 2020

In the wake of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announced Phase One reopening of the state of Florida, Lee Health on Friday said the resumption of elective surgeries on a “limited basis” will begin Monday.

All who enter Lee Health facilities will be required to wear a mask. Waiting areas will have chairs spaced out and every patient will be screened for symptoms of repertory illness.

All COVID-19 patients will continue to be isolated.

“We are taking a very cautious approach as we slowly return to normal operations and, for the first few weeks, we will limit surgeries to 20-25 percent of normal volume as we monitor their impact on the health system,” said Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci, Friday afternoon. “This is necessary to ensure that we continue to have the appropriate amount of personal protective equipment to keep patients and employees safe and to maintain adequate bed capacity to care for our entire community.

“Our hospitals remain safe, and we are leaving no stone unturned in taking proactive steps to protect patients who come into our facilities for their surgeries”

Antonucci said Lee Health, for the safety of its patients, will evaluate the impact of performing these additional elective procedures over the next two to three weeks.

They look forward to being able to provide some comfort for those who have had to put their surgeries on hold during this pandemic.

“I want to thank patients for their understanding during this trying time for our community,” Antonucci said. “Elective surgeries are often necessary procedures, like knee and hip replacements, that improve the patient’s overall mobility and quality of life. We look forward to helping patients who have endured an additional two months of knee, hip, shoulder and back discomfort as these surgical restrictions were in place.”

Antonucci commended the repertory therapy and ICU teams at Lee Health.

“When this pandemic first began two of the biggest concerns of every hospital in this country were: do we have enough ventilators and do we have enough ICU beds? Early on we made arrangements to acquire additional ventilators should they be needed,” he said. “Our team worked tirelessly to monitor their usage and to ensure that every patient who needed life-saving respiratory treatment was able to access it. Because of their work, we have the equipment we need, and as of today only about 25% of our ventilators are in use.”

Antonucci also credited the environmental support staff for meticulously preparing rooms for COVID-19 patients, thoroughly sanitizing them throughout the day for the safety of the entire system.

“It is because of their dedication that we maintained the capacity to provide intensive care in the appropriate setting for every COVID-19 patient who needed it, and continue to have the space available for them today,” Antonucci said.

* By the Numbers

As of 11 a.m. Friday, there are 34,728 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 1,039 since FDOH’s last update Thursday morning.

More than 21,000 test results were reported to FDOH on April 30, the second highest number since testing began.

The death toll increased by 46 from 11 a.m. Thursday to 11 a.m. Friday.

A total of 404,467 individuals have been tested: 367,971 have tested negative, 561 tests were inconclusive and 1,207 tests are pending results.

Of those testing positive, 5,767 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. There have been 1,314 deaths.

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percentage of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 9 percent. On April 30, 5 percent of new cases tested positive.

Gov. DeSantis’ office on April 28 released statistics pertaining to Florida residents and COVID-19 cases based on FDOH numbers and population, that show per 100,000 Floridians, there is a 5.2 percent mortality rate and a 9.8 percent hospitalization rate.

In Lee County, 1,067 individuals have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Friday; 409 in Fort Myers, 195 in Cape Coral, 225 in Lehigh Acres, 89 in Bonita Springs, 47 in Estero, 36 in North Fort Myers, nine in Sanibel, eight on Fort Myers Beach, six in Alva, one on Captiva, and one in Boca Grande.

Positive COVID-19 cases in the county have ranged front infants to a 100-years-old man. Lee County saw its first two cases on March 7, when a man and a woman, each 77, tested positive. They had traveled to the Dominican Republic.

FDOH reported a total of 42 deaths in Lee County as of Friday, after reporting 43 total on Thursday. When looking at data from Thursday to Friday, a 79-year-old female that passed away on April 9 was removed. The an email to FDOH regarding the reporting change was not immediately answered. All but one death was between the ages 61 to 96, with 38 aged 65 or older. The exception was a 39-year-old man who died March 25.

As of Friday afternoon, Lee Health had 87 COVID-19 patients isolated in system hospitals, an increase of four from Thursday. A total of 213 patients who had tested positive have been discharged, including eight on Thursday.

The system has submitted a total of 10,718 specimens for testing

Lee Health mobile collection sites on Thursday collected 68 specimens and had a total of 989 telemedicine visits between Lee TeleHealth and MyChartVideo.

Lee Health has 163 employees quarantined at home, down 14 from Thursday. Twenty-four employees currently are positive for COVID-19 after being exposed at work, down from 25 on Thursday.

Current bed capacity is still at 61 percent, with 9 percent of those being COVID-19 patients.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious viral disease. For most individuals, symptoms are mild. For a minority, the disease becomes a type of viral pneumonia with severe complications. Especially at risk are those who are older, those with underlying health conditions and the immune-compromised.

Officials strongly urges all members of the public who can, remain at home so as to limit exposure and so limit the number of cases so as to not overwhelm the health care system with at-risk and severe cases.

For more detail on Florida resident cases, visit the live DOH Dashboard.

To find the most up-to-date information and guidance on COVID-19, visit the Department of Health’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage. For information and advisories from the Centers for Disease Control, visit the CDC COVID-19 website. For more information about current travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, visit the travel advisory website.

For any other questions related to COVID-19 in Florida, contact the Department’s dedicated COVID-19 Call Center by calling 1-866-779-6121. The Call Center is available 24 hours per day. Inquiries may also be emailed to COVID-19@flhealth.gov.

* Pool testing being looked into

Dr. Roderic Lacy, M.D., D.C. CEO of the Florida Chiropractic Physician Association has announced that the idea of pool testing for Covid-19 is being considered by at least one national laboratory located in California.

According to Lacy, pool testing is a new idea where groups of patients’ samples are tested together thus allowing up to 50 patients to be tested at once. If the group is negative they would all be cleared to enter the workplace with the confidence of minimal risk of transmission. A positive group finding would result in additional smaller group testing. This technique will allow a few tests to be used for mass testing.

Lacy said this is an easy way to get the economy going again.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj