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Baptist Health: ERs ‘extremely busy,’ but hospitals not at max capacity

Baptist Health Jacksonville is clarifying an alert posted on its official social media accounts Thursday, saying its hospitals and emergency rooms are not at maximum capacity.
Baptist Health Jacksonville is clarifying an alert posted on its official social media accounts Thursday, saying its hospitals and emergency rooms are not at maximum capacity.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Baptist Health Jacksonville is clarifying an alert posted on its official social media accounts Thursday, saying its hospitals and emergency rooms are not at maximum capacity.

A Baptist Health spokesperson issued a statement via email and social media later Thursday, saying the statements made in the original posts were not accurate. The statement attributed the confusion to an “error” and said the intent of the messages was to let the public know that they could expect longer wait times at the emergency room.

“We sincerely apologize for the error in our recent social media post regarding our Emergency Room capacity. Our intention was to convey that our Emergency Rooms are extremely busy due to the surge in COVID-19 and you may experience longer than normal wait times,” the clarification said in part.

(READ: View the entire statement below.)

The source of confusion was a series of social media posts made early Thursday afternoon. The posts, which appeared to state that Baptist’s hospitals and emergency rooms had reached maximum capacity, painted a dire picture of the situation in the health system’s facilities.

“As we respond to the unvaccinated COVID-19 crisis in our community, hospitals are at maximum capacity and our emergency centers have reached a critical point. We are asking the community to please do what they can to help,” read the first in a thread of five tweets.

“Our hospitals and emergency rooms are at maximum capacity,” read the large text on a graphic accompanying the original tweet.

The tweets remained online for over an hour before they were taken down without an immediate explanation. News4Jax asked by phone and email for an explanation. In response, Baptist Health sent out a clarification dispelling the confusion.

An update posted on Twitter earlier in the day reported that Baptist has 433 COVID-19 patients, 91 of them in the intensive care unit. Fifteen of those patients are at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, four of them in the ICU.

Full statement from Baptist Health:

“We sincerely apologize for the error in our recent social media post regarding our Emergency Room capacity. Our intention was to convey that our Emergency Rooms are extremely busy and you may experience longer than normal wait times.

“A patient having an actual emergency such as a heart attack or stroke will be seen right away. Someone suffering from a less critical condition may experience a longer wait time, depending on the number of patients at the facility and their needs. If people are experiencing an emergency, they should get to an ER ASAP. Wait times also change throughout the day in each of our 9 locations.

“If you are experiencing a minor health issue, please consider visiting your primary care office. If you would like a COVID-19 test, there are several free sites listed below. If you do not have a primary care physician, please call 202.4YOU (202.4968), and we can assist you in finding a doctor in your area.

“We apologize to anyone who has experienced an unusually long wait time in one of our Emergency Centers. We are caring for patients with critical emergencies first. In addition, with the increase in ER visits due to the surge in COVID-19, our wait times are higher than usual.”


About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.