Hospital officials fear not enough healthcare workers to take care of COVID-19 patients

MIAMI, Fla. – Another surge in COVID-19 cases in South Florida and the number of hospitalizations is also on the rise. Healthcare workers are overwhelmed and hospital officials are saying that the area hasn’t seen the worst of it.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava hosted a virtual news conference with hospital CEOs, many of whom sounded the alarm, saying they don’t have the staffing to take much more.

Levine Cava urged South Floridians to wear masks and take other precautions — that is because officials believe cases will rise even more in the coming weeks due to holiday gatherings. And, all of this just around the corner as some hospitals say they do not have the staff to cover another big surge, plus there is no extra help in sight.

“This is exactly why we’re holding this event today — to make sure that the public understands we are up against the wall here,” Levine Cava said Friday.

Levine Cava said the county will be rolling out a new public awareness campaign titled “We Can, We Will” to emphasize the need for the public to do its part to get through a tough upcoming stretch in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carlos Migoya, the CEO of Jackson Health System, said that even though they may have enough beds for COVID-19 patients, they may lack staff. “We cannot afford to get to the kinds of numbers we had in South Florida back in July,” he said.

Friday’s numbers showed more than 10,000 thousand new cases statewide with over 2,500 in Miami-Dade County and 1,112 cases in Broward. Currently, the amount of intensive care unit beds available in both counties is just over 19 percent.

Hospital CEOs said that even field hospitals like those previously set up don’t help if there aren’t enough workers to staff them.

“In addition, we are being faced that they’re recruiting our nurses from our market to go elsewhere as travelers,” Aurelio Fernandez, CEO Memorial Healthcare System, said.

This past summer, South Florida was a hot spot for COVID-19 and hospitals had millions of dollars from the state to bring in traveling nurses. That is no longer the situation as much of the country is seeing a surge in cases, so whatever comes in the weeks ahead, area hospitals will have to make do with they have right now.

Hospitals are warning that the next 30 to 45 days will be a challenge if the public refuses to follow basic precautions.

One bright spot Friday for hospitals officials — they said they’ve learned they will be getting enough vaccine to cover all frontline health workers.

“It appears we will now receive enough of the Pfizer vaccine this month to support inoculation of all frontline hospital workers in South Florida who meet the Food and Drug Administration’s criteria,” Migoya said.

Related stories

About the Author:

Amy Viteri is an Emmy Award-winning journalist who joined Local 10 News in September 2015. She's currently an investigative reporter and enjoys uncovering issues facing South Florida communities. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, she's happy to be back in South Florida, where she earned a masters degree at the University of Miami.