Brevard nurse says COVID-19 situation was more intense in the northeast

Hospitalizations on the rise locally

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – New numbers from the Florida Department of Health show a reported single-day record in new resident hospitalizations across the state with 517.

While that puts a strain on some medical staff, some nurses told News 6 it doesn’t compare to what they saw in the northeast earlier this year.

In April, News 6 profiled the initial 15 nurses from Rockledge Regional Medical Center who traveled north to work at Morton Hospital. At the time, Brevard County only had 156 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases. As of Tuesday at 10 a.m., there was 4,413 reported positive cases.

Morton Hospital is located in Taunton, a suburb of Boston. Both Morton Hospital and Rockledge Regional Medical Center are owned by Steward Health Care.

News 6 first spoke to nurse Kara Ehrhardt in May as she was preparing to return to Brevard County.

“We’re definitely seeing an increase in patients but it’s not as intense as it was (in Massachusetts),” Ehrhardt said in a recent interview. “When I came home, I thought we dodged it. Brevard was looking good, Florida was looking good, and here we are.”

Ehrhardt said while the number of COVID-19 cases are up and they are seeing a rise in hospitalizations, it doesn’t compare to the patients they saw in Massachusetts, especially when it comes to treating them.

“It’s definitely shorter,” she said. “There’s different drugs that we weren’t using six weeks ago. More of a process in place rather than just get it done, keeping patients safe and alive.”

The time spent up north paid dividends for nurses here in Brevard County.

“When COVID-19 first started, the nurses were terrified here in Florida,” Ehrhardt said. “The nurses who were up in Boston are teaching and showing the nurses down here simple things like putting masks over oxygen. Unless you’ve been in it, you don’t know. We’re teaching those skills to our nurses here.”

Right now, don’t expect nurses from other Steward Health Care hospitals to swarm the Sunshine State.

Instead hospital leaders said Steward Health Care plans to continue to send nurses from other hospitals in Arizona and Texas, where they say there’s a greater need.

Leaders at Rockledge Regional Medical Center said while they are seeing an increase in hospitalizations, they are still performing elective procedures for patients.

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