TAMPA, Fla. — Hospitals in the Tampa Bay area are taking this recent surge in COVID-19 cases day by day, juggling high numbers of patients, increased needs, and stretched staffing. It comes as public health officials continue to urge people to get vaccinated and take precautions to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system.
“We’re seeing more COVID patients now than we ever have,” said Glenn Waters, BayCare Health System’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
ABC Action News spoke to Waters about the current state of their resources amid this surge in COVID-19 cases. From a staffing standpoint, Waters said they’re stretched, explaining they have more travel nurses in house now than they’ve ever had as one way to help ease that strain.
He said with ventilators and respiratory equipment, they have what they need, though supplies in some areas are getting lower than they’d like.
“We have vents on hand at all of our hospitals, but in some cases, it may be three or four, not six or eight,” said Waters. “As we see the COVID volumes increasing, that’s creating some concern, so in a couple of instances, we have reached out to the state and said, ‘Hey, we would like to be able to tap into your supply of emergency vents just to make sure we have the resources we need if things don’t change going forward.”
ABC Action News checked in with other Tampa Bay area hospitals, too. AdventHealth said they have sufficient PPE, ventilators, and specialized equipment available to quickly and safely convert existing spaces in the hospital into standard patient rooms or ICU/critical care rooms, if needed.
Sarasota Memorial explained so far, they’re doing okay on supplies and equipment. Tampa General Hospital explained as for PPE and resources, right now they’re good on supplies, like vents and respirators.
“The hospital beds, every bed is occupied, so it is a very full situation,” said Adam Rudd, Largo Medical Center’s CEO.
Like other area hospitals, Largo Medical is also finding ways to manage the surge. Rudd shared the simplest thing people can do to help is get vaccinated.
“I can’t tell you how many sad stories that I am seeing every day of somebody if they just got vaccinated, we would have never met them or their families,” said Rudd.