Hospitals In South Broward Handle Miami-Dade Patient Overflow

For a time last week, two Memorial Healthcare System hospitals combined had more Miami-Dade residents than they had Broward residents.

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The coronavirus knows no borders.

And neither do people who need medical help with the virus.

So as hospitals are stretched thin in Miami-Dade, many of the sick are heading north into Broward, especially into Memorial West and Memorial Miramar hospitals.

"I think what you have seen is a disproportionate number of patients coming in from northwest Miami-Dade County," said Aurelio Fernandez, president and CEO of Memorial Healthcare System. "The Hialeah area, Country Club of Miami, Miami Gardens -- simply because we're so close to each other."

Last week, 58% of patients at Memorial Miramar and 49% of those at Memorial West had Miami-Dade addresses.

"Right now, as of today, this week is a better week than last week," Fernandez said, noting COVID patient load at all system hospitals, which peaked last week at 661, was down almost 10 percent Tuesday to 602.

And less than half of those at the Miramar and West hospitals combined are now Miami-Dade residents.

He also said state reporting on the availability of staffed intensive care and other beds can paint a bleaker picture than really exists in the hospitals.

"We’ve been able to adjust beds," he said. "We’ve also been successful in converting conference centers, lobbies, auditoriums for additional beds."

He also noted bed availability increases with more staff and the system has brought in more than 200 nurses from outside the area, with 100 more on the way.

"And that’s really to relieve the current staff that, quite honestly, they're heroes working 12-hour shifts and you can imagine how stressful this job can be," he said.

Some of that stress may be easing just a bit, as caseloads pause their recent surge, but Fernandez warned it could get worse, unless the public at large does its part.

"It becomes the responsibility of our residents and adhere to CDC guidelines and honor physical distancing, honoring wearing masks and personal hygiene. Otherwise," Fernandez said, "there could be another surge. And who knows what could happen then?"

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