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COVID surge continues to overwhelm NCH intensive care unit

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen
Published: Updated:

COVID-19 cases are surging and one Southwest Florida hospital is really struggling.

Doctors and nurses at NCH Healthcare System are overwhelmed.

For nearly two weeks now, NCH’s intensive care units overflowed with COVID-19 patients.

On Wednesday, there are 61 people with only 45 beds. Across its hospital, NCH is caring for 209 patients who tested positive for COVID-19. Of that number, 172 are unvaccinated. Of that number, 56 are in critical care with COVID. Of that, 56 patients are in critical care with COVID. Patients range from ages 10 to 96 with a median age of 58.

There are three pediatric patients.

Since the start of the pandemic, 287 patients have died due to COVID-19.

NCH currently has 32 employees who tested positive for the virus and/or isolated.

“It is mentally exhausting,” said Dr. Carlos Quintero.

Quintero deals every day with the stress and heartbreak of caring for the sickest COVID-19 patients.

“It is very challenging for the physicians and the staff to be interacting with family members who have their loved ones who are hanging on to dear life on ventilators,” Quintero said.

There are 37 families in that situation right now. Some of those patients will not make it.

Quintero said the hospital is prepared for this.

“We’ve had surge plans in place,” Quintero said. “We have opened up additional beds, we have additional ventilators. Our critical care physicians are working extra shifts so they can manage these patients.”

But no amount of preparation will lesson the emotional toll on doctors and nurses.

“The physicians and the staff are tired. there’s no doubt about it,” Quintero said. “Obviously, we were hoping that we were past and beyond, that COVID was sort of behind us and we wouldn’t have another surge.”

There is a glimmer of hope.

“We’re at 209 patients today. We peaked at 231, a few days ago, about a week ago,” Quintero said. “I think there’s, there’s some hope that the numbers are slowly improving, and we’re cautiously optimistic that we’re going to see some improvement, but we still need, we still need the community’s help.”

The best way to help the community is to wear a mask, social distance and get a vaccine.