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Polk County ICU beds filling up fast with less than 6 percent of beds available

Posted at 4:42 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 07:59:55-04

LAKELAND, Fla. — Polk County’s intensive care units are filling up. On Monday afternoon, the Emergency Healthcare Administration reported the county’s available beds fell to just 5.66%.

Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center showed it was at full capacity, although representatives say the EHA’s data can be misleading due to the fact it does not reflect overflow beds.

LRHMC sent ABC Action News this statement Monday:

Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center reports an additional 50 ICU beds to the Agency for Health Care Administration through our Emergency Status System daily data submission that reflects our capacity to flex up and accommodate additional patients who need intensive care. These surge-capacity beds are not displayed on the state’s website, but from an overall capacity standpoint, we are able to handle the volume of critical patients that come to our hospital. At this moment we have 23 of those critical COVID-19 patients at our hospital.
From Caroline Gay, Lakeland Regional Health Senior Vice President and Chief Analytics Officer/Chief Population Health Officer.

Gay went on to explain its regular capacity for ICU is 68 beds, but because those are full, the dashboard shows LRHMC as having no extra room.

In fact, Gay says the hospital can accommodate up to 118 critical care patients. As of Monday evening, the hospital had 76 ICU patients, 30 percent which is being treated for COVID-19.

ABC Action News spoke to a long-time nurse who says the environment is hectic.

“We scramble and adjust and we open up what we call overflow areas,” said Hershey Pyle, a 30-year veteran of LRHMC.

RELATED: Several ICUs in Pinellas and Hillsborough are full, other Tampa Bay counties running low on ICU bed space

Hospital administrators tell ABC Action News the best method to prevent spread is by wearing a mask.

“We at Lakeland Regional Health definitely advocate for the community wearing masks and we have every one of our team members at the hospital wearing masks,” Gay said.

Polk County Commissioners spoke about how they will spend money granted to the county due to the virus.

Commissioners suggested proving at least a million masks to residents who cannot afford to buy them.