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Hospital ICU Beds Dwindling In South Florida As Coronavirus Cases Rise

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Florida reported 315,775 positive coronavirus cases statewide Thursday with 19,825 people hospitalized. More than 50 hospitals have reached intensive care unit capacity and show zero beds available, according to data released by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).

Eight of those hospitals are in Miami-Dade County, including Baptist Hospital of Miami, North Shore, and South Miami.

"Currently our hospital capacity is at about 89%," said Leah Carpenter, CEO of Memorial Hospital West.  "Our ICU capacity is beyond 100%."

In Miami-Dade, hospital ICU beds are at 107% capacity. Checking the overall bed availability for a few of the larger hospitals in Miami-Dade, Baptist has 9% of its beds available, Jackson has 25%, Kendall Regional showing 15.5% and Mt. Sinai has nearly 23% of its beds available.

In Broward, Hospital Availability show 19% for Memorial Regional, at Memorial West it's just shy of 8%.  Broward Health Reported to the state that it had 11.5% of its bed available while Broward Health North shows just shy of 5%

Hospitals are getting ready for more patients, converting auditoriums or any available space, even setting up tents.  The head of Jackson's Trauma department tells us he's finding a lot of their trauma patients are also COVID positive forcing them to make adjustments.

"We're about to finish the 20th bed in our surgical and trauma intensive care unit, converting them to COVID beds," said Dr. Nicholas Namias, Chief of Trauma and Surgical Care for Jackson Memorial Hospital.

But even with adding regular and ICU beds, the question is how to staff them.

"It's really a crisis moment at Jackson," said Martha Baker, President of the SEIU Union representing health care professionals at Jackson. "And we're just, I say dancing on the head of a pin, hoping we can keep dancing."

She adds, "15 nurses in the ICU's alone called in sick today, just at Jackson Main.  They're exhausted.  They've been doing this since march."

At a discussion this week in Miami, Gov. Ron DeSantis said help is on the way for south Florida hospitals.

"We've already deployed 100 nurses to Jackson Memorial," Gov. DeSantis said. "We have a 1000 nurses and medical personal and we have the option to add up to 2000 more."

Baker tells us they expecting another hundred soon. "They really are like the cavalry arriving, just in time," she said.

They're already pulling employees from all over the hospital to help.

"People that are working in finance, procurement are volunteering to take shifts in COVID units just to be helping hands. And that's huge," Baker said.  "We're deploying any of our nurses that work in the back offices like in IT or documentation specialists for insurances purposes are being asked to take shifts in clinical settings, it's really an all hands on deck."

Hospitals tell us they're able to handle the influx now, but the trend has got to reverse.

"We're comfortable that the next several weeks we continue to do this, but we can't do this forever," said Jackson Health System President and CEO Carlos Migoya.

Doctors and nurses tell us the way to bring the numbers down — you've heard it before: wear your mask, wash your hands, follow social distancing and stay away from crowds.

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