HUDSON, Fla. — Florida is leading the nation in COVID-19 hospitalizations and the impact is hitting Tampa Bay hospitals from ambulance wait times to overflow emergency rooms.
Thursday, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point opened a tent outside of their emergency room due to the influx of patients seeking care for COVID-19 symptoms.
Bayonet Point Communication Director Rick McNamara tells ABC Action News that they were already short beds before the pandemic, now the problem is exasperated with the COVID-19 Delta surge.
The hospital also started construction to double their ER from 19 beds to nearly 40 before the pandemic hit.
HCA's Oak Hill Hospital also set up a tent outside to keep up with the influx of patients.
Oak Hill Communications Director Katie Stacy told ABC Action News in an email, "At this time, we have expanded our treatment capacity by adding care space outside of the ER for as long as necessary."
Compared to the first outbreak of COVID-19, Delta patients are more likely to be admitted to the ICU and need ventilators. Patients are also much younger.
Stacy adds, "We are also ensuring we have the supplies necessary to care for those patients, such as oxygen. The staffing shortages nationwide are a challenge for us as well. We are thankful for our team who has taken advantage of the incentives available to them to cover shifts."
"Our hope for the community is: please, if you are eligible for the vaccine and have not yet done so, get vaccinated," Stacy said.
HCA hospitals stress that their ER's are safe and ask anyone in need of emergency care to seek help.