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Florida deploys first mobile ICU to Winter Haven Hospital

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 18:19:22-04

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — COVID-19 patients across Florida are sick and dying. Intensive Care Units are full or filling up and nurses are working long and hard.

Some hospital staff are now quarantining themselves as they catch the virus, too.

ABC Action News was alerted to Winter Haven Hospital where a new mobile ICU was delivered by Florida Emergency Management. The hospital is running low on space.

The mobile hospital unit offers 12 additional ICU beds, according to nursing staff working inside the Winter Haven Hospital. They also say it comes with additional staff for the unit as well.

Data from the Agency for Health Administration shows Polk County with just 6.9 percent of beds available.

According to the same site, there are just four beds open at Winter Haven Hospital. Forty-nine patients are listed to be in the ICU.

In last week’s Winter Haven commission meeting, hospital’s president Steve Nierman told the city capacity is an issue due to nurses getting sick, too.

“There’s many many nurses and clinical staff that are quarantined at home who have acquired this virus. And if you don’t have a bed with a nurse or a doctor then that’s not going to help much with capacity,” said Steve Nierman, the president of Winter Haven Hospital.

The Winter Haven Hospital would not let ABC Action News talk with nurses on camera, even though they were willing. However, one registered nurse, Timothy Simpson, agreed to let us share his post from Facebook.

I know everyone is getting both physically and mentally exhausted. So now is when we look out for one another and help each other in any way we can. There is no doubt this is the toughest and most trying times to be a healthcare worker. But I know when we work as a team, we get through it and the patients get the best care and we get them back home to their families.
Timothy Simpson, RN
Winter Haven Hospital RN

ABC Action News also found out the hospital has been re-routing ambulance traffic to Lakeland Regional, due to the lack of space.

“We are sending all of the ambulance traffic to Lakeland Regional and they are bypassing Winter Haven unless EMS predicts the patient may not survive the commute,” said Nierman.

BayCare Health System, which owns Winter Haven Hospital, sent us this statement but did not explain exactly how many COVID-19 patients it has or how many are on ventilators.

This second peak of COVID-19 is directly impacting Winter Haven Hospital and many others in Florida.
BayCare Health System