FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Hospitals in Broward and Miami-Dade counties admitted the most COVID-19 patients of any counties in the U.S. in the last seven days, with more than 800 patients each, according to a White House report.
Signs of the pandemic toll on South Florida health systems emerged this week as South Florida hospitals enacted surge plans:
—Memorial Healthcare System set up triage tents outside its Emergency Departments and is using conference space to care for patients.
—Broward Health and Cleveland Clinic Florida began converting regular rooms into COVID wards.
—The two counties’ children’s hospitals are triaging a crunch of patients in their emergency rooms and admitting the most critically ill children with COVID. In July alone, more than 30% more children per day have been treated in Nicklaus Children’s Hospital’s emergency department than during the summer of 2019, before the pandemic began.
—Cleveland Clinic Florida, which also has seen COVID-19 patient numbers increase, planned a vaccine clinic Saturday at its Weston campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in an attempt to curtail the tide of patients flooding in.
“We have seen a 200% increase in hospitalized COVID patients in the last month and a 400% increase in the last two months,” said Dr. Scott Ross, chief medical officer at Cleveland Clinic Weston. “Last night, we put a 19-year-old who was unvaccinated on life support.”
Broward health care workers say they are emotionally and physically exhausted, and watching younger unvaccinated and formerly healthy people express regret as they are put on ventilators.
“We recently lost a patient, 51, and some of his last words were ‘I wish I could have gotten vaccinated. I wish I could have known that this was real. I wish I would have listened,’” said Juana Mejia, a nurse manager in the ICU at Memorial Hospital Miramar.
“In the last five days, the numbers started skyrocketing,” said Dr. Sunil Kumar, medical director of the intensive care for Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s so sad because it’s preventable. As patients come into my care they are asking for vaccines and I tell them it’s too late for that.”