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Florida Hospital Association meets with local hospitals to ensure preparedness ahead of third COVID surge

Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 5:02 PM CST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Healthcare leaders are preparing for what they say is the third surge of hospitalizations due to the coronavirus. The Florida Hospital Association is meeting with local hospitals to make sure they’re prepared.

On Wednesday the association met with local hospital leaders to learn more about what they’re experiencing, and what their needs are when it comes to COVID-19 response, which association leaders say is the most pressing issue they’re facing.

The FHA says we’re nowhere near the July peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations, but we are moving in the wrong direction.

Right now, there are about 4,800 COVID-related hospitalizations across the state; that’s more than double the number in September.

FHA president and CEO Mary Mayhew said Wednesday that hospitals are in a much better position than they were last spring when it comes to things like PPE.

Mayhew adds hospitals have been able to do a good job converting spaces into ICU or COVID care units. But now one of the biggest challenges hospitals are facing is having an adequate workforce.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to have the nurses, the doctors, the respiratory therapists. That’s what every area of the state is examining,” Mayhew said.

Right now, Mayhew says hospital capacity is in a good position. Only about half of the number of people are hospitalized compared to the July peak, but it could be getting worse.

“The concern is, here we are in the holiday season, families are getting together as we would expect, and that just creates greater risk of individuals contracting COVID,” Mayhew said.

“It’s not just the holiday season though, we’re also heading into the peak of flu season.”

FHA says education and awareness of the vaccine is so important. They say that five hospitals in the state are expected to get the first round of doses as early as next week.

Still, there’s a lot of hesitation among Tallahassee residents.

“This is our hope on the horizon. This is a turning point for all of us,” Mayhew said.

According to Mayhew, a COVID-19 vaccine could be available for the general public soon after the start of the year.

“I would want to take the vaccine, the thing that held up the vaccine as long as it did is just all the testing so, I’m pretty confident in it,” Andrew Rakestraw, a Tallahassee resident, said.

Still, there are a lot of mixed feelings about its safety.

“I don’t know if I’ll take it when it comes out, because I don’t know if it’s been a little rushed or not. But just kind of to see what happens with people who do choose to take it,” said resident Nick Goodger.

While COVID-related hospitalizations are moving in the wrong direction, a vaccine could be the answer.

“Lives lost that we mourn. The impact on individuals, families and their livelihoods. The economic impact, the disruption to our children’s lives going to school. This vaccine holds such incredible promise,” Mayhew said.

Mayhew says now they’re focusing on awareness and education so more people can see that.

The FHA said they expect to see a lot of good doctors and healthcare professionals starting to take the vaccine very publicly to try and increase people’s confidence in its safety and encourage others to do the same.

Health experts are also stressing the importance of the flu vaccine, saying any added hospitalizations due to the flu, when added to the rising COVID-19 hospitalizations, can further strain hospital resources.

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