One of South Florida's biggest hospital systems is planning on suspending elective medical procedures amid the state's recent COVID-19 spike.
In a statement Wednesday, Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County said they will be suspending elective procedures on August 9 "in an effort to conserve critical resources for the care of COVID-19 patients, to provide safe healthcare, and to keep our community safe."
With the much more contagious delta variant now spreading exponentially, Florida hit 11,515 hospitalized patients Tuesday, breaking last year's record for the third straight day and up from just 1,000 in mid-June.
Officials at Memorial said daily hospitalization rates are at levels not seen since the major spike last summer.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Memorial Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marc Napp said they have more overall patients than they've ever had before. Napp said they haven't surpassed last summer's peak of COVID-19 patients, which was just over 600, but they were at 537 on Wednesday and were expected to surpass last summer's numbers.
Napp said the hospitals have over 1,600 patients, while they usually don't have more than around 1,400.
"We are seeing a surge like we've not seen before," Napp said.
Napp said of the COVID-19 patients who are hospitalized, about 96-97% are unvaccinated.
In response, the hospital system has opened up an additional 250 beds in their hospitals. Napp said a conference center at Memorial Regional was converted to allow for 40 patient beds, while a cafeteria at Memorial West was also converted to house patients.
They've also restricted their visitation policy to only allow fully vaccinated visitors.
"Memorial Healthcare System is always available to care for emergencies, and all of our facilities, including physician practices and radiology, laboratory, rehab, and cancer centers remain open for business," the hospital system's statement read.
Napp said the biggest challenge for the healthcare system was finding staff to care for the patients. He said nurses and respiratory therapists have been brought in from around the country to help.
Meanwhile, at a roundtable discussion with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier Wednesday, Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya said they are also looking into reducing elective procedures.
“We are looking at maybe reducing our electives right now. We stopped our visitations because we want to make sure we don’t spread it," Migoya said.