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AdventHealth Moves Mid-Florida Hospitals To 'Yellow' COVID Status

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Because of the recent case spike of unvaccinated patients, elective surgeries are deferred, visitors are limited and masks are required. But there is more than enough space and equipment to handle the increase.

AdventHealth Central Florida has transitioned into "yellow status" as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the greater Orlando region with the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

Under this status, elective surgeries requiring inpatient stays will be deferred and each campus’s chief medical officer will review all cases that require a stay in intensive care. Previously scheduled surgeries, pediatric surgeries and procedures at outpatient surgery centers are not affected.

In addition, visitors will be limited, and team members, visitors and patients will be required to wear a mask.

The Central Florida Division covers Polk, Orange, Osceola, Lake, Seminole, Volusia and Flagler counties.

There are about 720 patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in that group, Dr. Neil Finkler, chief clinical officer for the Central Florida Division, said Thursday during AdventHealth's weekly briefing.

“We are now seeing about the fastest rate of increase that we have seen during the course of this entire pandemic,” Finkler said.

Finkler cites the delta variant and unvaccinated population for the spike.

Dr. Tim Hendrix, medical director for AdventHealth's Centra Care clinics, emphasized that 95 percent of the COVID-19 patients checking into the system's hospitals are unvaccinated.

“Even if you get COVID,” Finkler said, “if you are vaccinated, you seem to be protected from severe disease and from deadly disease. The vast majority of people who develop COVID who are vaccinated have relatively minor cases compared to those who are unvaccinated. This has really become a tale of two cities. You’ve got the vaccinated and unvaccinated.”

AdventHealth points out that while hospitalizations have increased, the region still has fewer COVID patients compared to the peak of about 900 in January,

Nevertheless, the numbers are putting a strain on the hospital system, Hendrix said.

AdventHealth’s color-status system is based on staffing and resources. The system has been at green — business as usual — for the past several months. Yellow, red and black are the higher levels, respectively.

Finkler said his hospitals are designed to be flexible and expandable, with sufficient supplies of ventilators and other specialized equipment to convert spaces into standard or intensive care rooms, if needed.

“It’s important that the community understand that AdventHealth has the capacity to care for their needs,” said Finkler, an obstetrics and gynecologic oncologist.

Hendrix said about 25 percent of people who come into Centra Care facilities are testing positive for COVID-19. A month ago, it was 7 percent, he said.

“A big rise, very rapid rise," Hendrix said. "The same rise back during the (winter) holidays, it took us three to four months to get to that point. And this has only taken us less than a month to get to a similar point. That’s even higher than what we were seeing during the holidays. So this just attests to how contagious this variant is.”

According to Hendrix, asymptomatic spread is a major concern.

“It’s safest for everybody to wear masks at this time," he said. "We know they are highly effective.”

Finkler offers this “take-home” message from the briefing:

“Get the vaccine. There’s plenty of vaccine available. Protect yourself, protect your family and protect your loved ones.”

Health News Florida's Danielle Prieur contributed to this report.

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.