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As COVID hospitalizations increase, local hospitals make changes to elective surgeries

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Posted at 7:19 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 23:16:17-04

WESLEY CHAPEL, FLA.  — AdventHealth Wesley Chapel remains the only hospital in the West Florida Division that has temporarily postponed any non-urgent elective procedures that require an overnight stay.

Hospital officials said patients will be notified directly if their procedure will be rescheduled. The decision allows the hospital to further plan for the increased need of hospital beds and resources.

Adventhealth Tampa and AdventHealth Carrollwood will begin limiting visitors on Wednesday, August 4. The visitation policy changes will now be in effect at all Tampa Bay area locations including the two mentioned above.

"Across our six hospitals in the Tampa Bay region, we're well over 300 patients now and that is exceeding our past surges entirely and it’s continuing to grow," said Dr. Doug Ross, Chief Medical Officer of AdventHealth Tampa.

Dr. Doug Ross said the majority of patients are unvaccinated. The hospitals are seeing a younger demographic of patients hospitalized.

"Can be seen as young as 16 or 14 years of age even had a baby who had COVID...all the way up into the 90s, but really the shift has been towards younger people because those are the people who have opted not to get vaccinated so that’s what we’re seeing," said Dr. Ross.

Dr. Ross said patients are coming in with the usual symptoms of COVID-19. Those symptoms include: shortness of breath, nasal congestion, headache. Dr. Ross said some patients need oxygen and their lungs are not functioning adequately.

BayCare hospitals are also seeing an increase in patients with COVID-19. Hospital officials said numbers have surpassed their busiest peak which occurred in July 2020.

The overwhelming majority of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated and between the ages of 20 to 50 years old. Those who are vaccinated and hospitalized tend to be older individuals with underlying health conditions.

Hospital officials said they have seen an uptick in pediatric patients needing to be hospitalized.

"We made the decision in our Hillsborough County markets, first to deter any elective surgeries that require overnight stay. The reason we did that is we wanted to reserve the inpatient beds for people who really really needed them," said Glenn Waters, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer for BayCare Health System.

Local doctors encourage people to get vaccinated and wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. They also encourage people to practice social distancing.