Marion County hospitals set COVID-19 inpatient record

As COVID-19 continues to surge across the state, hospitals in Marion County saw an influx of hospitalizations, registering the most people hospitalized locally since the start of the pandemic.

With almost 900 positive cases reported since Jan. 1, and a seven-day positivity rate of 16% as of Jan. 6, area hospitals saw a flood of new patients.

On Wednesday, 148 people were in the hospital across the county due to COVID-19. A day earlier, the number was 170, a record.

Since the start of the pandemic, Marion County has accumulated more than 19,00 positive cases among residents. All told, 1,376 have been hospitalized and 495 have died, according to the Florida Department of Health.

“The main concern that we’re having within the health care community at this point are the increasing hospital admissions for (COVID-19),” said Dr. David Kuhn, who runs the Trinity Clinic dashboard.

Marion County COVID-19 Hospitalizations

January 5, 2021 170
December 1, 2020 58
November 1, 2020 35
October 1, 2020 34
September 1, 2020 59
August 1, 2020 114
July 1, 2020 28

*Agency for Healthcare Administration numbers via Trinity Clinic Dashboard

As COVID-19 continues to surge across the state, hospitals in Marion County saw an influx of hospitalizations, registering the most people hospitalized locally since the start of the pandemic.

With almost 900 positive cases reported since Jan. 1, and a seven-day positivity rate of 16% as of Jan. 6, area hospitals saw a flood of new patients.

On Wednesday, 148 people were in the hospital across the county due to COVID-19. A day earlier, the number was 170, a record.

Since the start of the pandemic, Marion County has accumulated more than 19,00 positive cases among residents. All told, 1,376 have been hospitalized and 495 have died, according to the Florida Department of Health.

“The main concern that we’re having within the health care community at this point are the increasing hospital admissions for (COVID-19),” said Dr. David Kuhn, who runs the Trinity Clinic dashboard.

Higher COVID-19 numbers can affect the wider healthcare system.

“As these numbers increase to the level they’re at now, nursing staff becomes quite short,” he said. “We worry that, if the numbers rise from even where they are now, that hospital care will be compromised for anybody who may need the hospital, whether they’re a (COVID-19) patient or not.”

As of Monday morning, Marion County had one of the lowest available hospital capacities in the state. The county had an available capacity of 10.66%, which was the fourth-lowest of any county with hospital beds, according to the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

ICU availability was also dwindling in Marion County on Monday. The county had just 5.75% of adult ICU capacity available. By comparison, 19.76% of adult ICU beds statewide were available. Marion County has three hospitals with adult ICU beds, and only Ocala Regional Medical Center had space left at the time.

AdventHealth Ocala is shown on Monday. All three Marion County hospitals are seeing an increase in hospitalizations as COVID-19 cases surge.

But the hospitals say they have the flexibility to deal with surges.

“In late March, AdventHealth Ocala created a 52-bed COVID-19 unit on the sixth floor to prepare for an influx of patients and have been able to provide continued care for patients,” AdventHealth said in a statement. “Our hospitals are designed to create flexible and expandable spaces and we are able to pivot quickly, if necessary, to safely convert existing spaces to standard patient rooms or ICU/critical care rooms. We also have sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and specialized equipment available should it be needed due to increased demand. Additionally, we are prepared to pause our non-emergent surgical cases to increase capacity for COVID-19 patients, if, and when necessary.”

Ocala Regional Medical Center also said they had a handle on the surging cases.

“Although over the last few weeks we have seen an increase in patients for a variety of health concerns including COVID-19, we continue to be under normal operations with adequate bed capacity, staffing and supplies to care for all potential and current patients. Bed capacity is a fluctuating figure that routinely changes through the course of the day as patients are admitted and discharged. If we needed to implement surge plans for any reason, we are prepared to do so to ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve throughout evolving phases of the pandemic. We are also excited to be opening our new 36-bed unit tomorrow which will continue to highlight the best in class cardiovascular care we deliver while also bringing additional inpatient bed capacity to the community.”

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