COVID Patients Increase at Lakeland Regional While Some Other Hospitals See a Possible Peak

Some Central Florida hospitals say they’re seeing signs that the surge in COVID-19 patients is leveling off, but that’s not the case at Lakeland Regional Health. The hospital’s snapshot of patient load at 10:30 a.m. today showed that 443 patients had tested positive for the virus, the highest number reported yet.

At that level, more than half of Lakeland Regional’s 864 beds are occupied by patients with COVID. It’s nearly 2 1/2 times the January peak of 180 COVID-infected patients.

LRH has been releasing COVID snapshots each Monday and Thursday in August. Today’s figures showed new records for COVID patients in intensive care — 64 — and those on ventilators — 52.

The hospital has also started posting charts on social media that illustrate how many of the COVID patients have been vaccinated against the virus. The latest one, posted Monday, shows that 81.8 of LRH’s COVID patients were unvaccinated. The figures were 75% for patients in intensive care and 83.7% for patients on ventilators.

AdventHealth, which operates 30 hospitals in Florida including locations in Davenport and Lake Wales, said today it is seeing a decrease in COVID patients at its Central Florida hospitals. The number dropped from 1,680 on Tuesday to 1,380 today and 1,620 a week ago, The Orlando Sentinel reported.

“We, for the last three days, have seen the number starting to fall with regards to our total number of hospitalizations for COVID. I do believe that we have not only plateaued, but I believe we have peaked,” said Dr. Neil Finkler, chief clinical officer of AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division. “Three days don’t make a complete trend, but we’re certainly hopeful.”

AdventHealth on Tuesday announced it was resuming some outpatient procedures, based on signs that COVID patient loads might be topping out.

COVID hospitalizations throughout Florida peaked Aug. 18 at 17,295, according to a New York Times info graphic based on data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services from 233 Florida hospitals. Numbers have generally declined since then, though there was an uptick on Wednesday to 17,164 from 17,088 the day before.

Hospital-by-hospital data reported to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and last updated on Monday, showed that 668 inpatient beds were in use at Lakeland Regional Health — just shy of 80% capacity. The hospital had 109 intensive care beds in use — 85% of capacity.

The rise in COVID admissions to LRH comes as the delta variation of the virus has fueled a surge of cases in Polk County, which has seen record numbers of new infections for the last four weeks in a row. The 6,983 cases reported last week was nearly double the previous peak week — Jan. 10 to 16 during the post-holiday surge.

The next weekly update on COVID in Florida and its counties is expected late Friday afternoon from the Florida Department of Health.

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