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Lee Health: In-patient numbers dip

By Staff | Jul 24, 2020

Local health officials on Friday shared some good news when it comes to COVID-19 in the community.

Lee Health President and CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci announced that “while it may be too soon to call it a trend,” Lee Health has discharged more COVID-19 patients than have been admitted over the last three days. They have also seen a decline in positivity rates on tests processed through Lee Health labs.

“This is very good news,” Antonucci said. “Today, Lee Health is treating 52 fewer COVID patients in our inpatient facilities than we were on Monday. We’ve also seen a decrease in positivity rate on tests processed through Lee Health labs.

“In addition to the falling COVID hospitalizations, today our current census is at its lowest point of the week, and more help is on the way to open additional beds. We are still on track to staff an additional 50 beds next week, and yesterday we made a request to the Florida Emergency Operations Center for increased staffing support. We requested 30 nurses, 40 certified nursing assistants and eight respiratory therapists.

Antonucci also shared what he called “highlights” of positive developments inside of Lee Health hospitals over the last seven days. These include:

* Lee Health has replenished its supply of remdesivir and their infection prevention and pharmacy teams created a quicker path to get it to patients.

* Lee Health’s care management team has created a framework to provide follow-up care for COVID-19 patients after they receive their diagnosis and return home. This framework includes both Lee Health physicians and other community doctors to reach as much of Southwest Florida as possible. Lee Health is expanding this process to care for patients with other diagnoses, such as cellulitis, that require close follow-up care to prevent hospital admissions.

* Lee Health has treated more than 300 COVID-19 patients with donated plasma from recovered individuals as part of its participation in Mayo Clinic’s Convalescent Plasma study.

* Lee Health’s supply chain team continues to ensure they have the necessary amount of personal protective equipment to keep their staff safe as they care for patients. This week, Lee Health was able to begin utilizing reusable gowns to further conserve supplies.

“This just scratches the surface of the innovative ways our team has found to manage what we hope will be a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic,” Antonucci said.

Cape Coral Hospital was also recognized for its hard work.

“I also want to take this opportunity to recognize the Cape Coral Hospital emergency nursing team, who for the second straight year who won a national award for a poster on stroke care and has been recognized as a member of the Emergency Nursing Association’s Hall of Honor. I couldn’t be more proud,” Antonucci said.

** Chester Street testing site to get expanded hours

According to officials, to meet the demand for COVID-19 testing, the City of Cape Coral, in partnership with Lee Health, is increasing the days of operation for its mobile specimen collection site at Chester Street Resource Center from three days to six days per week beginning July 27. The collection site, at 4816 Chester St. in Cape Coral, is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. by appointment only.

“Expanding operations to six days a week allows us to better serve the community,” said Kris Fay, MHA, chief administrative officer, Lee Physician Group, Home Health & Physician Services at Lee Health, in a release. “We are pleased with the response the Cape Coral location has received and we look forward to the opportunity to provide more testing to those who need it.”

A physician’s order is required to be tested at the collection site. Patient’s should contact their primary care provider, visit an urgent care clinic or do a virtual telehealth visit through Lee Telehealth at LeeTelehealth.org to determine if an order is clinically indicated.

With hurricane season in full effect and the potential for inclement weather, the Page Field collection site will now operate Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The testing is by appointment only and a physician’s order is required.

According to the release, increased demand for coronavirus testing has led to longer turnaround times to receive results. While awaiting test results, individuals should self-isolate and follow CDC guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Test results will be available from the ordering provider. Patients who are on MyChart will have access to their results through the MyChart app. MyChart can be downloaded from the Apple or Android app store.

** By the Numbers

As of 11 a.m. Friday, there are 402,312 cases of the new coronavirus confirmed in Florida, an increase of 12,444 since FDOH’s last update Thursday morning.

More than 106,200 test results were reported to the Department of Health on Wednesday, July 22. Of those reported tests, 13.31 percent tested positive. Over the last two weeks, the average positivity rate has been 12.65.

The state saw its highly daily percentage of positive patients July 8, when 18.50 percent of tests reported were positive among 51,686 tests.

The death toll increased by 135 from Thursday’s update, reported among Lee, Alachua, Bay, Brevard, Broward, Clay, Columbia, Dade, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jackson, Lake, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Suwannee and Volusia counties.

Friday’s reported fatality numbers follow the single-largest reporting day for coronavirus-related deaths with 173 on Thursday. This does not mean all of the deaths occurred or were reported by local health care facilities on that day but that they were released in the state report that day after reports were processed.

A total of 3,281,087 individuals have been tested: 2,874,324 have tested negative, 4,451 tests were inconclusive and 2,727 tests are pending results. Of those testing positive, 23,225 Florida residents have been hospitalized at some point during their illness. There have been 5,768 deaths.

The age groups of Florida residents that have yielded the most positive test results are 25-34 years old (20%), followed by 35-44(16%), 15-24(16%) and 45-54 (16%).

The highest hospitalization rate is found in patients 65-74 (19%), 75-84 (18%) and 55-64 (18%) years old.

In Lee County, 14,046 (+278) individuals have tested positive as of 11 a.m. Friday; 5,799 in Fort Myers (+104), 3,110 in Cape Coral (+78), 2,749 in Lehigh Acres (+67), 937 in Bonita Springs (+17), 471 in North Fort Myers (+13), 302 in Estero (+2), 81 in Alva (+2), 59 on Fort Myers Beach (+0), 33 in Sanibel (+0), 25 in Bokeelia (+1), 18 in Saint James City (+0), 11 in Tice (+1), eight on Matlacha (+0), three on Captiva (+0), three in Buckingham (+0); three in Boca Grande (+0), three in Miromar Lakes (+0), two in San Carlos Park (+0), one in South Fort Myers (+0) and one in Immokalee (+0);149 cases were not identified by community.

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 252 (+5) deaths in Lee County; 151 deaths were reported in residents or staff of long-term care facilities.

As of Friday, Lee Health had 283 COVID-19 patients isolated in system inpatient hospitals, including 33 new admissions yesterday. A total of 1,743 patients who had tested positive have been discharged, including 39 on Thursday.

The system has submitted a total of 41,181 specimens for testing with 1,267 results pending.

On Thursday, Lee Health had a 21.8% positivity rate on COVID-19 tests processed through Lee Health Labs. This represents Lee Health results only, not Lee County as a whole. Hospital positivity rates tend to be higher as the tests are performed on patients seeking treatment for a health issue, not the general public that includes asymptomatic individuals.

Lee Health’s mobile collection sites on Thursday collected 528 specimens.

Current census is at 95 (-2)% of staffed operational bed capacity, with 23 (-.3)% of those being COVID-19 patients. Staffed operational capacity reflects the number of beds for which the hospital has adequate staffing, not the total number of beds within Lee Health hospitals. Overall bed capacity fluctuates hour to hour as the system discharges patients throughout the day who are ready to go home.

As of Friday, 58 (+0) percent of ventilators and 11 (-2) percent of ICU rooms are available for use across Lee Health facilities.

There are currently 39 (+3) COVID-19 patients on ventilators and 54 (-3) in the intensive care unit.

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 urge all members of the public who are at risk to remain at home so as to limit exposure. All others are urged to observe social distancing and to wear a mask 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