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Lee Health drafting plan to resume in-hosptial visitations

By Staff | Jun 1, 2020

As COVID-19 continues to impact the country and community, local health officials are searching for a way to safely resume in-hospital visitations

President and CEO of Lee Health Dr. Larry Antonucci, on Monday said the system is working to be able to once again allow patients visitors, a service that has been suspended since March 8.

More details are to follow this week.

“We continue to evaluate this policy, and we are actively looking into how we can reopen visitation as quickly and safely as possible,” Antoncci said. “I understand the hardship this can cause patients and their loved ones. Our team remains empathetic to the fact that patients are missing their families while they stay in our hospitals and is taking every step to care before them both clinically and emotionally. We continue to utilize technology to help patients interact with their friends and family virtually, and while it doesn’t replace spending time with loved ones in person, it helps them remain connected as much as possible.”

Antonucci also commended his staff, which he said has gone above and beyond when it comes to patient care amidst the pandemic.

“At the same time, I want to thank our front-line workers who care for these patients,” he said. “Not allowing visitation impacts them, too. They know how helpful it is to a patient, both physically and mentally, to have visitors. During this time our front line has stepped to spend additional time with patients and to help them connect with their loved one so that their emotional needs are met. “

* Numbers rise, but plateau once again

Over the last few weeks, the average number of COVID-19 patients in Lee Health’s care per day has risen from 80-90, to 100-110.

While a high number of patients are being released each day from the hospital, more do continue to come in, keeping the number steady.

Antonucci said the case increase the county has seen over the last 14 days — which included Memorial Day weekend, and that was expected — has apparently “plateaued.”

“We had been holding steady at about 80-90 patients per day, and about two weeks ago we saw a small uptick that coincided with businesses and beaches starting to reopen,” he said. “This was expected as more people are out and about compared to a month ago. This number has again leveled-off, and has been holding consistently between 100 and 110 patients per day over the last week. This plateau is a positive sign that reopening has not led to a sudden surge in cases, and that people are continuing to practice safety measures like physical distancing and wearing a mask when out in public.”

* Lee Health to host virtual town hall June 4

“We will be hosting a virtual town hall on Facebook Live this Thursday at 3 p.m.,” Antonucci said. “I will be joined by other Lee Health leaders who have been instrumental in crafting and overseeing our proactive COVID-19 response plan. This is an opportunity for members of our community to tune in and have their questions answered about the current state of COVID-19 in Southwest Florida. More information about the town hall can be found on our Facebook page, and I look forward to helping answer any questions our community still has about the coronavirus.”

* By the Numbers

As of 11 a.m. Monday, there are 56,830 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 667 since FDOH’s last update Sunday morning.

More than 26,700 test results were reported to the Department of Health on Sunday, May 31. Of those reported tests, 2.8 percent tested positive.

The death toll increased by nine from 11 a.m. Sunday to 11 a.m. Monday, reported among Brevard, Broward, Dade, Duval, Hendry, Pinellas and Polk counties.

A total of 1,041,318 individuals have been tested: 983,570 have tested negative, 918 tests were inconclusive and 1,160 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 10,231 have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. There have been 2,460 deaths.

While Florida’s testing has increased over the past week, the percentage of those testing positive for COVID-19 overall is 5 percent.

In Lee County, 1,943 individuals have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Monday; 786 in Fort Myers, 358 in Cape Coral, 444 in Lehigh Acres, 132 in Bonita Springs, 67 in Estero, 57 in North Fort Myers, 11 in Sanibel, 13 on Fort Myers Beach, seven in Alva, three on Matlacha, one on Captiva, one in Bokeelia, one in Tice and one in Boca Grande.

Positive COVID-19 cases in the county have ranged from infants to a 101-year-old. 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.

There have been 105 deaths in Lee County, an increase of five over the weekend. All but five deaths occurred in patients over 60.

As of Monday afternoon, Lee Health had 107 COVID-19 patients isolated in system hospitals. A total of 528 patients who had tested positive have been discharged, including 22 since Thursday.

The system has submitted a total of 17,670 specimens for testing, with three results currently pending.

Lee Health mobile collection sites over the weekend collected 359 specimens and had a total of 759 telemedicine visits.

Current bed capacity is at 73 percent, with 9.5 percent of those being COVID-19 patients.

As of Monday, 77 percent of ventilators and 11 percent of ICU rooms are available for use across Lee Health facilities.

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 are at high risk remain at home so as to limit exposure. Residents also are urged to wear masks and observe social distancing for all public interactions.

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.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj