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South Florida Hospitals Face Coronavirus Spike, Patient Increase

A health care worker at a coronavirus testing site in Homestead during the coronavirus pandemic in July.
A health care worker at a coronavirus testing site in Homestead during the coronavirus pandemic in July.

South Florida is seeing an alarming increase in coronavirus cases. Hospitalizations and deaths are also on the rise.

There are more than 3,000 hospitalizations with COVID-19 as a primary diagonsis in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

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Miami-Dade County reported Friday that ICU bed capacity is around 97 percent.

Hospital staffs are starting to feel strained, according to the Miami Herald. Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management,  tweeted Friday that the state is securing 1,000 nurses who can be deployed across the state.

Earlier this week, the governor announced that Jackson Health System is getting an 100 additional nurses and other health care personnel.

On the South Florida Roundup, host Tom Hudson spoke with Dr. Carol Biggs, Chief Nursing Officer at Jackson Memorial Hospital, about the response to this latest spike in coronavirus cases.

Here’s an excerpt of their conversation:

DR. CAROL BIGGS: The patients keep coming, right? In cutting back some of the elective procedures, it does free up some beds for the patients that are continuously coming in. One of the things that we notice is that patients are coming in for other things, appendicitis or some other medical problem. And then when they are tested, we find out that they're positive. So they're coming in on both sides because they're just sick medically with a non-COVID related illness that then we find out that they do have COVID. And then, of course, some are coming in because they are having COVID symptoms.

TOM HUDSON: When you're working with your staff regarding just schedules and making sure you've got enough nurses in the right places at the right time, are you finding your personnel strained?

We have the same complement of nurses we've had. We've been hiring feverishly. The governor has secured the 100 nurses for us, which will definitely be a little relief for some of our own staff. But understandably, the number of patients that are requiring that higher level of care is increasing.

We're four months into this and seeing what we hope is a spike, meaning that it's going to go down in the future. How are you thinking about this?

As a health care worker, every time I see people walking around without a mask or wearing the mask below their nose, understanding what's really going on there and knowing that we each wear the mask to protect the other person, because my mask protects you and your mask protects me. When I see people not masking, it troubles me to say, "Oh, my goodness, we're going to be in more trouble if we don't really start practicing to be safe and taking this COVID-19 seriously."

The transcript of this interview has been edited lightly for brevity and clarity.

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Alexander Gonzalez is a recent graduate of the University of Miami. He majored in English and was the the editor-in-chief of The Miami Hurricane newspaper from 2014-15. He was WLRN's digital intern during summer 2015. He subscribes to too many podcasts and can't get away from covering the arts in Miami.
In a journalism career covering news from high global finance to neighborhood infrastructure, Tom Hudson is the Vice President of News and Special Correspondent for WLRN. He hosts and produces the Sunshine Economy and anchors the Florida Roundup in addition to leading the organization's news engagement strategy.