Gainesville area hospitals find relief with fewer COVID-19 patients
COVID-19 hospitalization cases are still dropping in Alachua County, according to the county dashboard.
As of Monday, COVID-19 related illness accounted for 176 adult inpatients — 43 fewer than Friday and the lowest yet on the new dashboard. Of those, 52 were in the ICU, and 33 were on ventilators.
The numbers do not include patients at the Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which has declined to release data since the recent surge began.
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North Florida Regional Medical Center, which is included in the dashboard and does report data to the county, has had a 51% decrease in COVID-19 admissions since Sept. 1, according to a prepared statement from its chief medical officer, Dr. Sean Benoit.
The medical center is beginning to resume elective procedures as the numbers continued to decline, he said, as other policies like universal masking and visitor restrictions remain.
University of Florida Health Shands Hospital is similarly opening back up slowly to take in more transfer patients, according to CEO Ed Jimenez.
With fewer COVID-positive patients now, he said, Shands is able to start giving them more beds and room, he said. The transfer patients will include people needing transplant surgeries, for example, who had previously been slowed for admissions as COVID-19 patients filled the space.
Jimenez said Monday's Zoom meeting would be the last regularly scheduled hospital COVID-19 press availability for now as his hospital's number of COVID-positive patients dropped below 100 for the first time since late July.
There were 91 COVID-19-positive patients at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville Monday morning, he said, including 24 in intensive care and five children. Additionally, there were 89 patients no longer infectious for the virus still receiving care.
A week ago, there were 149 patients at Shands positive for the virus, he said.
"We've made strong, strong progress," Jimenez said. "This is good news, right, because I think we can now see a horizon ... I'm extraordinarily excited."
The hospital leader said numbers were falling thanks to people taking more precautions, for various reasons. He mentioned Alachua County's mask manadate as one factor and heightened awareness of COVID-19 deaths and sickness in people's communities as another.
For the patients who were still COVID-positive on Monday, Jimenez said, 83% were unvaccinated. That's higher than the less than 10% the hospital has seen previously, but not because more vaccinated people are falling seriously ill, he said. The vaccinated hospitalized patients are largely immunocompromised and have stayed around the same amount.
Rather, fewer unvaccinated people are seeking hospital care for COVID-19 complications, he said, shifting the ratio.