The Phoenix Flyer

ICU beds filling up in FL hospitals with unvaccinated patients, registered nurse says

By: - August 9, 2021 3:33 pm

A man hospitalized with COVID-19 is given medicine. Credit: Getty Images

Registered nurse Kelly Fields works the night shift at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota. Two months ago, her hospital didn’t have any COVID patients in ICU, Fields told the Florida Phoenix.

But just last week, her “16-bed ICU now has eight COVID patients,” she said in an email through the National Nurses United, a nationwide union representing registered nurses.

“They are all unvaccinated,” she said.

In her 23 years in the nursing field, “the past year and a half has been the most difficult,” Fields said, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the dangerous Delta variant sweeps the nation.

As previously reported by the Phoenix, the crisis at Florida hospitals has been exacerbated by many nurses leaving the state for better paying jobs, a hospital executive said last week.

According to data released Monday from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are 2,836 ICU beds in use for COVID-19 in Florida, as reported by 257 hospitals. That’s nearly 45 percent of the total staffed ICU beds of 6,532.

In addition, the total number of in-patient bed utilizations in Florida is 57,441 and 47,428 are in use — about 83 percent across 257 hospitals, based on the HHS data. Overall, 13,977 inpatient beds are in use for COVID-19,  almost 25 percent of all in-patient beds.

Overall, COVID-19 cases have been surging in the state, with new cases above 20,000 for several days in early August, according to the CDC. Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis has been against lockdowns and face mask mandates for schoolchildren.

Fields said that she’s now seeing “people in their 50s and 60s,” who have died of COVID. The situation has been emotional for Fields, who said she’s “cried more since COVID began than she ever has” as a nurse.

“Before it was older people dying – 65 and older. But much of that population is vaccinated,” Fields said. “Parents are dying, leaving behind children and spouses.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.