Florida to open 120-bed center for COVID-19 patients

Florida officials are finalizing plans for a "super-skilled nursing facility" that will accept COVID-19 patients who don't require critical medical care, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The 120-bed facility will be in Pinellas County, though more specific details haven't been released, Pinellas County Administrator Barry Burton said July 16.

Last month, only eight COVID-19 patients in Pinellas County needed ventilators, but 54 patients were on ventilators July 15, said Angus Jameson, MD, medical director for Pinellas County Emergency Medical Services. Some hospitals are again halting elective surgeries, Dr. Jameson said.

"Clearly, the healthcare system is stressed at this point from a physical standpoint, but also frankly from a human standpoint," Dr. Jameson said. "Your healthcare workers are exhausted. They've been at this for months. It is incredibly hard to care for patients with COVID."

Earlier this week, Florida officials said they were focusing on expanding hospital surge capacity rather than building alternate sites to accommodate an overflow of patients due to the hurricane season, according to WUSF Public Media. 

"At this time, mobile field hospitals consisting of tents may not be the best resource to deploy during hurricane season," Florida Division of Emergency Management communications director Jason Mahon told WUSF. "Instead, our primary support strategy is to surge staff into existing facilities — opening up additional capacity in those hospitals."

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