TAMPA (WFLA) – As Tampa General Hospital cares for high levels of critically ill patients, USF Health is shifting resources to help on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.
“The number of ICU patients now is like pretty close to the number of peak patients we had before like total,” said Dr. Kami Kim, director of infectious diseases at USF Health and an attending physician at TGH.
There are nearly 250 COVID-19 patients at TGH and nearly 90 in the ICU as of Thursday morning.
Dr. Kim said additional pulmonologists who specialize in the respiratory system are needed now to help care for patients on ventilators.
In a tweet on Wednesday, USF Health posted they “may have selective clinic cancellations and rescheduling.”
Dr. Kim said TGH is providing about 50 covid patients a day with Regeneron’s treatment, but some are becoming so sick so quickly, they don’t qualify.
“A lot of the people who get admitted to the hospital are the ones who are gasping for breath and they need oxygen,” she explained. “So they can’t get the monoclonal antibody even if they presented within 4-5 days of symptoms because it’s too late based on what the drug is approved for.”
A new vaccine PSA from the Florida Hospital Association and Florida Medical Association features an ICU nurse sharing the heartbreaking story of a mother in her 30’s who had COVID-19 and passed away.
“She left her husband and three little kids, ages four, two, eight,” Juana Diaz says in the PSA. “They’re saying, ‘Mommy, come home. Mommy, I miss you.”
The current COVID-19 wave is bringing younger patients to TGH, Dr. Kim said, with the average age in the low 50s. Just last weekend, she said a mom and daughter came in for testing.
“Daughter was negative, she was positive and she’s now parked in our ICU,” Dr. Kim said. “She doesn’t have any medical problems.”
Dr. Kim said she is hopeful younger adults on the fence about the vaccine will get their shots once the FDA grants full approval.
“We all value personal freedom,” she said. “But part of being in a society is we have to look out for each other and I think getting vaccinated is a way of looking out for yourself and everyone around you.”