Driven by COVID-19, hospitalizations at Miami-Dade’s public hospital system grow by 300%
Image via AP.

Jackson Memorial Hospital
Earlier this month, Jackson Health System upgraded its COVID-19 threat level to "high" amid a 111% increase in hospitalizations. It's now nearly four times that.

Occupied beds in Miami-Dade’s public hospital system have quadrupled in number over the last month, driven primarily by a surge in COVID-19 cases.

During a Tuesday meeting of the Public Health Trust, which oversees funding for the county-run Jackson Health System, Jackson CEO Carlos Migoya laid out the facts.

“We’ve gone from 50 patients to 200 patients,” he said. “If there’s any positive, it’s that the last we have seen (is) a slowdown of the increase … in the last few days. We don’t know if that’s the summit that we’re getting to or not, but we will know in the next few days.”

Migoya tempered the news by noting that the number of hospitalizations is still far from where they were in July 2020, when Jackson had 500 patients at a time. But the increase is still creating issues for health care workers at the system’s many locations throughout the county.

“The numbers now, although very high, are still manageable,” he said. “We do have some challenges with staff. The hospital is full with a lot of other patients as well, so there are challenges in front of us. But we’re managing that as best we can at this point in time.”

With 76% of its population over 12 years old vaccinated as of last week, Miami-Dade boasts the highest inoculation level among Florida’s 67 counties. Still, the county reported a 10.1% positivity rate with 11,104 newly confirmed cases — a 2½-percentage-point increase from the week prior.

Jackson’s biggest focus internally with employees and the community is to grow the number of vaccinated residents, Migoya said. And so far, the rate at which vaccinations are being administered is unsatisfactory.

“We still have 500,000 people that aren’t vaccinated,” he said. “In the last couple weeks, we have been averaging 33,000 vaccines a week, Miami-Dade County, which is not a sufficient enough rate to make an impact on that 500,000 number.”

In mid-July, Jackson upgraded its COVID-19 threat level to “high” at most facilities and announced that it would be ending visitation hours for most patients starting July 21.

At the time, representatives said Jackson had seen a 111% increase in virus-driven hospitalizations over two weeks.

Of the 139 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, 95% were unvaccinated.

Dr. O’Neil Pyke, the chief medical officer at Jackson North Medical Center, said that “almost every single” COVID-19 patient he spoke with has rued not getting vaccinated before catching the virus.

“We’ve heard those stories time and time again — almost every single patient who comes in says, ‘Oh gosh, we should have gotten vaccinated,’” he told Newsweek today. “They have a variety of different reasons for that, but folks are sharing regret that they did not get vaccinated in a timely fashion.”

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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