ORLANDO, Fla. – AdventHealth, Central Florida’s largest hospital chain, has once again elevated its emergency status due to rising COVID-19 patients, health care officials announced Monday.
The hospitals had been under a “green” status, or business as normal, for a few months while vaccinations were increasing but on Thursday, AdventHealth announced it was elevating its status to “yellow.” Now, AdventHealth is again upgrading to a level “red.”
AdventHealth Orlando Chief Medical Officer Dr. Victor Herrera addressed the change on Monday during a COVID-19 update with Orange County officials.
“We are approaching an all-time high, in terms of our inpatient number of COVID-19 cases, which is a stretch in our capacity,” Herrera said.
Across the hospital system, there are 862 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Monday morning, according to AdventHealth officials. This includes hospitals in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Polk, Volusia and Flagler counties. The number of virus patients is nearing the peak the health care system saw in January with 900 patients.
A level red status means hospitals will defer all non-time-sensitive elective outpatient surgeries effective Tuesday. Patients will be notified if their surgeries need to be rescheduled.
“When we are in a situation like this one, where our capacity is a stretch, we may have to reschedule care that is not urgent. So, as a reminder, that is what level red means. We do a systematic review of all procedures that are scheduled for patients, and if there is something that can wait, then we make that decision in collaboration with a doctor taking care of that patient so we can increase our capacity,” Herrera said.
Despite the elevated status, AdventHealth officials said their system is not at risk of reaching capacity.
“Although we are in a very tight capacity situation, we stand ready to meet the demands of our community, and all the health care needs,” Herrera said. “We have the appropriate equipment, space and everything that is needed — even if cases continue to go up — to continue to care for COVID and not COVID-19 patients.”
The chief medical officer said 90% of patients in the hospital now have not been vaccinated.
“If somebody gets a COVID-19 vaccine, based on what we’ve seen, their chances of get being hospitalized are very low, or probably way less than 1%,” Herrera said.
Herrera also specifically addressed vaccine hesitancy among women who are looking to get pregnant or are currently pregnant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that any of the available COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility or impact a woman’s menstrual cycles.
Herrera said the hospital is currently caring for a pregnant woman who is intubated in the ICU. The hospital is now seeing more pregnant women with COVID-19 than the previous surges in cases.
“This is a reminder to our community, and pregnant women, to consider the COVID-19 vaccine, and to have that conversation with their doctors. We want to encourage pregnant women to think about vaccination,” he said. “Again, we don’t know yet if this is related to the delta variant, but clearly there is a higher number of pregnant women very sick with COVID-19 right now compared to before.”
Dr. Raul Pino, Orange County health officer with the Florida Department of Health, said the county reported 13 deaths last week, the youngest was 27 years old. All those individuals were unvaccinated.