Amid a surge in Florida coronavirus cases, Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ administration is changing the guidelines for hospitals’ reporting of intensive-care beds in the state Emergency Status System, or ESS.
In a phone call with hospital providers this week, Florida Surgeon General Scott Rivkees, who’s also the secretary of the Department of Health, said he no longer wants hospitals to report to the state the number of patients in intensive-care unit beds.
Instead, Rivkees said he only wants hospitals to report the number of patients in those beds who require what he described as an “intensive level of care.”
The change could reduce the number of occupied ICU beds being reported to the state.
“There has been new wording in terms of, do individuals have intensive-level care,” Rivkees said, noting that some hospitals have located COVID-19 wards within intensive-care units and are reporting all COVID-19 patients as ICU patients. “So make sure that when you are giving us numbers of individuals in intensive-care units, it’s those individuals having intensive-care unit care.”
The switch in reporting comes as the daily numbers of new COVID-19 cases in Florida continue to climb at a record-high pace. The state on Friday said there were 3,822 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the overall number of COVID-19 infections to 89,748. There have been 3,104 deaths related to the coronavirus in Florida.
And the number of unoccupied ICU beds is decreasing.
Florida has both adult-ICU beds and pediatric-ICU beds. Since COVID-19 poses a more deadly threat to older adults than children, the focus has been on the number of adult-ICU beds.
As of Friday, the average adult-ICU bed availability was 22 percent statewide, according to the ESS system. But adult-ICU bed availability varies by county, and some COVID-19 hot spots appear to be running out of open beds as the potential need for them increases. For example, Palm Beach County has 407 adult ICU beds but just 78 — or 19 percent — were unoccupied and available for use.
In Broward County, roughly 18 percent of the 460 adult-ICU beds in the county remained available Friday morning. Miami-Dade County has 971 ICU beds but just 245 are unoccupied and available for use.
Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.