SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) — Doctors and nurses at Sarasota Memorial Hospital continue seeing a record number of coronavirus patients.
Numbers released by the hospital Tuesday show 201 COVID-positive patients with 44 in the intensive care unit. More than one quarter of the hospital’s total patients have COVID-19.
Doctors tell us the numbers have been exponentially climbing since early July.
Back on July 8, the hospital had 15 COVID-positive patients with two in the ICU. On August 2, there were a total of 131 coronavirus patients with 29 in the ICU.
Critical care pulmonologist Dr. Joe Seaman admits the surge has been stressful.
“We are 18 months into this pandemic,” Seaman said. “The stress and the strain of caring for more ICU patients has just been challenging on everyone. Everyone has to do more, take care of more, see more patients and then just to deal with the overwhelming burden of morbidity and mortality associated with this and all of the emotional toll, it wears on you,” he continued.
SMH’s normal ICU capacity is 62 beds. That capacity has been expanded that to 80 to meet the critical care needs in the community. The hospital has told us in the past, it has the capacity to further expand to more than 100 beds if needed to handle a surge.
In terms of equipment, Dr. Seaman says the hospital is doing just fine.
“Right now we have an adequate supply of ventilators and we could substantially increase the number of patients that need a ventilator without fear of running out,” Seaman said. “With that being said, there is always a point that at some point you are going to run out. We’ve got an adequate supply right now and there are contingency plans too.”
Much like other hospitals seeing an influx of COVID patients, SMH is seeing younger patients — about 89% are unvaccinated as of last Friday.
“We are seeing younger people with predominantly no other problems,” the critical care doctor said. “It’s like their body just catches on fire and it just spreads throughout their body and it gets them to a point where they are not going to survive it. There are younger people that we would not have expected to succumb to the illness dying from it,” he continued.
The hospital is also starting to see an increase in mortality. Nine patients at SMH died since last Friday.
“Almost all of this is preventable,” Seaman said. “We have an amazing vaccine that prevents hospitalization, it prevents respiratory illness to where you end up on a ventilator in the ICU, and it prevents death –we know that. When I walk through the unit, I see people suffering, I see people dying from this. It is just incredibly frustrating because you know that this is preventable,” he continued.