coronavirus florida

Hospital Alliance CEO Weighs in on ICU Capacity, Health Care Worker Burnout

NBC Universal, Inc.

As the number of cases go up, hospitals across South Florida are seeing intensive care units fill up as health care workers power through to meet patient demand.

NBC 6 anchor Sheli Muñiz spoke to Justin Senior, the CEO of Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. The alliance represents more than a dozen hospital systems in the state.

SHELI: With the rise in cases, what are hospitals telling you about capacity?

SENIOR: Well, there are a lot of considerations that are going into the way they’re trying to analyze the situation. Obviously, the hospitals are really busy right now and what they’re trying to do is something that was attempted back in March/April when this thing first crested in the first wave in New York and other places around the country. They're trying to serve all of the COVID patients in the context of also trying to serve the needs of the rest of the community.

SHELI: We know the situation and the scarcity of beds available in South Florida. At what point does the hospital begin to use the makeshift hospitals like the Miami Beach Convention Center that was made available to us?

SENIOR: I think the first step that a hospital is going through as a general rule is first to create a bit of capacity on its own and they would do that by freeing up capacity by starting to free up some of the scheduled inpatients, outpatients and urgent care treatments that they’re currently, for the most part, engaged in.

SHELI: It seems really unfortunate because either which way there is going to be a patient who needs care and is going to have to wait.

SENIOR: You know those scheduled procedures are medically necessary, so you can’t delay that forever. You can keep that up for 4-8 weeks, maybe somewhere in that range, but you’re right, those procedures are going to have to be done or there are going to be healthcare consequences, health consequences for that family and that individual on the other side.

SHELI:  That's very worrisome. Are you worried about what's around the corner?

SENIOR: If hospitalizations, daily hospitalizations really jump from here, it's going to be a very tight situation. Hopefully, we're seeing a plateau. 

SHELI: I want to ask you about our health care workers' well-being. They've got to be getting burnt out.

SENIOR: You know that is one of the reasons why, I think, the state of Florida has put such an emphasis on getting additional staff resources down here. You have patients coming in and Jackson is a great example -- patients come in for a car accident or for some other reason in the inpatient setting and they're tested as part of the intake process and they turn out to be COVID positive. All of that that work and all of that intensity is something that has the potential to burn people out and lower moral.

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