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Emergency rooms in South Florida get selective with coronavirus cases

Emergency rooms get selective amid coronavirus pandemic demand
Emergency rooms get selective amid coronavirus pandemic demand

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. – A woman said a doctor turned away her husband on Monday in Pembroke Pines. The 65-year-old man was diagnosed with the coronavirus while suffering from pneumonia and a heart condition, she said.

A man said his 70-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Despite being really ill, she was released on Thursday and left to wait alone on a bench until about 6 a.m., he said. Her condition worsened and she died on Monday.

The cases at Memorial Healthcare System in Broward County come as the number of available intensive care unit beds is dwindling. Dr. Stanley Marks, the chief medical officer of Memorial Healthcare System said statewide data shows that about 11% of COVID-19 patients get admitted to hospitals.

“As a public healthcare system, Memorial does not, or have we ever, rejected a patient due to lack of beds,” Marks said in a statement. “And, we do not anticipate doing so, despite the surge of COVID-19 positive cases.”


According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, the estimated available hospital bed capacity in Broward and Miami-Dade counties is about 21.8%.

About 16.7% of the intensive care unit beds in Broward are still available on Monday, and about 19.5% are available in Miami-Dade, AHCA reports.

The reported availability of pediatric ICU beds is higher: About 58% in Broward and about 19% in Miami-Dade. Monroe County doesn’t have any.


Marks also said Memorial has tents outside the emergency departments to triage patients who have symptoms. The hospitals are also decreasing elective procedures, redeploying some staff to high priority areas, contracting travel healthcare professionals and converting spaces to help meet the demand.

In Miami-Dade County, the Jackson Health System reduced selective procedures to allow only urgent surgeries, as COVID-19 patients in need of treatment doubled in the last two weeks.

Carlos A. Migoya, the president and CEO of Jackson Health System, warned this measure won’t be enough if the cases continue to increase at the same rate.

“We feel comfortable right now that we have enough beds and staffing to be able to deal with that, but if that trend were to continue for a longer period of time ... it’s not sustainable,” Migoya said.


The United States is the nation with the most confirmed cases. Florida is among the top 8 states in the country with the most confirmed cases.

The state is now up to 206,447 confirmed cases with 3,778 resident deaths associated with COVID-19, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Miami-Dade and Broward are the counties with the most confirmed cases in the state. Miami, Hialeah, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Homestead are the cities with the most cases in the state.


About the Authors:

Parker Branton joined Local 10 News in January 2019 as a reporter. He was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, but now loves living on the sunny beaches of South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.