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With hospitals near capacity, patients wait to be seen

Medical centers say those in life-threatening condition don’t have to wait

UF Health Jacksonville added this tent outside the emergency room earlier this month.
UF Health Jacksonville added this tent outside the emergency room earlier this month. (Provided to WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At UF Health Jacksonville, the number of COVID-19 patients ticked up again Friday after the number of new patients seemed to ease this week.

Outside the emergency room of its downtown hospital, a couple told News4Jax they had been to several emergency rooms over the last few days before going to UF Health.

“We’ve seen St. Vincent’s and they were packed. Emergency rooms were packed the past week. They were filled with people waiting for hours. They sent some home and told him to come back at 6:30 in the morning,” said Eileen, who only wanted to provide her first name.

Ascension St. Vincent’s and other hospital groups each told us that their emergency rooms are crowded but they are seeing anyone with a life-threatening condition. They conceded at others could be in for a long wait to see a doctor.

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Justin Senior, the CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, which represents UF Health and Ascension St. Vincent’s and other of the state’s major hospital groups, said the surge of patients in Northeast Florida was not unexpected.

“Jacksonville is kind of the epicenter of this. They had one of the lowest vaccination rates going into July and that has probably really come back to bite them.” Senior said.

We learned that Mayo Clinic’s hospital is no longer at capacity and they report seeing fewer new COVID-19 cases this week -- 29.6% fewer patients as of this past Monday as the previous week.

Mayo does not provide patient numbers the way Baptist Health, UF Health, Ascension St. Vincents and Flagler Health made available for the last few weeks.

On Friday afternoon, the Florida Hospital Association reported 16,849 confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state -- 166% of the state’s previous peak on July 23, 2020.

“Across the country, the numbers are up. But certainly in our area, very high and it looks like Jacksonville or the greater Jacksonville area was really making up a lot of that,” said Dr. Elizabeth DeVos, president of the Duval County Medical Society. “We’ve seen some minimally encouraging number s, (a) slight decrease in the numbers of patients with COVID coming in. We are definitely not out of the woods.”

About the Author:

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