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Some hospitals in Jacksonville making changes to visitation policies

Changes come as hospitals see increase in COVID-19 patients

UF Health Seeing COVID Surge
UF Health Seeing COVID Surge

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some hospitals in Jacksonville are making changes to their visitation policies as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Florida and around Jacksonville have increased.

UF Health Jacksonville said that “due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in Jacksonville and Florida, visitation is limited at this time.” The hospital said it is allowing one visitor per patient at a time.

UF Health Jacksonville officials said the hospital has the most COVID-19 patients it has ever had, and that’s even before the COVID-19 vaccine came out. UF Health Jacksonville told News4Jax on Tuesday afternoon that there were roughly 127 COVID-19 patients at the hospital. That’s up from 117 people who were hospitalized with COVID-19 there as of Monday.

Debra Wells is among the patients hospitalized at UF Health Jacksonville.

“I thought I had a cold. Come to find out, it wasn’t a cold,” Wells told a national reporter by phone on Monday. “Before I came in, I felt like I was about to die.”

Baptist Health told News4Jax that its visitation policy will be updated Tuesday evening.

Baptist Health said it had 253 COVID-19 patients hospitalized across five of its locations as of Tuesday afternoon -- 59 of whom were in the intensive care unit. According to Baptist Health, one of those patients had been fully vaccinated. There were 23 more patients hospitalized at Baptist Health on Tuesday than Monday.

Mayo Clinic told News4Jax that beginning July 16, in-patients and out-patients may have one visitor if the patient has not tested positive for COVID-19 or is not being evaluated for COVID-19. Mayo Clinic asks that visitors be vaccinated for COVID-19. According to Mayo Clinic, any patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are being evaluated for COVID-19 may not have any visitors at any time.

Memorial Hospital told News4Jax that its visitation policy hasn’t changed, with patients allowed one visitor at a time.

According to health experts, the majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients aren’t vaccinated.

Wells said she did not get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“It makes me want to get vaccinated now. If you feel like you’re dying, you’ll want to get vaccinated,” Wells said. “As soon as I get out of here and get well, I’m going to get vaccinated.”

Wells’ mother told News4Jax by phone that she is doing better but is not sure when she will leave the hospital.

Ganeene Starling, 43, of Lake Butler, was hospitalized at UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville -- where she said it was a close call.

“I was told that I probably would die. My husband was called at like 3 o’clock in the morning, saying I probably would not live through the night,” Starling said.

Starling said that she did not get the vaccine.

“Now, looking back, I wish to God I would had,” she said. “There’s nothing I can do about it now.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he will hold a virtual briefing at 12:05 p.m. Wednesday with area health care leaders to address the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and the local vaccination rate.

About the Author:

Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.