25% of Sarasota Memorial patients have COVID-19; CEO on what makes this surge different

More than 25 percent of patients at Sarasota (Fla.) Memorial Hospital has tested positive for COVID-19, the hospital reported Aug. 10.

David Verinder, president and CEO of the hospital, told Becker's that "in May and early June, we were letting out a collective sigh of relief as we saw a substantial decrease in our COVID-19 patient census. By the first week of June, our hospital was down to just a few patients, with none in the ICU, raising hopes that we were in the final phase of this pandemic."

About six weeks ago, there were three COVID-19-positive patients in the hospital and zero in the ICU, Joseph Seaman, MD, Critical Care Pulmonologist of Florida hospital, said in an update from the hospital uploaded to YouTube. On Aug. 10, more than 200 patients at the hospital were COVID-19-positive, with more than 40 patients in the ICU.

Like many hospitals nationwide, the hospital is seeing an influx of younger COVID-19 patients, with ages "ranging in age from infants, toddlers and teens to adults of all ages," Mr. Verinder said.

"In the past 24 hours, we had 76 new patients test positive and 37 admitted to the hospital," Mr. Verinder said. "We also lost 4 hospitalized patients who had been battling the disease in our ICU. They were 38, 53, 57 and 81, and all unvaccinated."

The vast majority of its COVID-19 patients — 90 percent — are unvaccinated.

"We are seeing younger people with predominantly no other problems," Dr. Seaman said. "It’s like their body just catches on fire and it just spreads throughout their body and it gets them to a point where they are not going to survive it. There are younger people that we would not have expected to succumb to the illness dying from it." 

Dr. Seaman said the surge has been stressful for staff.

"We are 18 months into this pandemic," Dr. Seaman said. "The stress and the strain of caring for more ICU patients has just been challenging on everyone. Everyone has to do more, take care of more, see more patients and then just to deal with the overwhelming burden of morbidity and mortality associated with this and all of the emotional toll; it wears on you."

When Becker's asked Mr. Verinder what the biggest difference is between this COVID-19 surge and past surges, he said "it was almost all preventable."

"There are safe and effective vaccines that can stop the virus and variants fueling these hospitalizations and help put an end to this pandemic," he said.


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