Ascension Sacred Heart seeing rapid increase of COVID-19 hospitalizations
MIRAMAR BEACH — Ascension Sacred Heart Emerald Coast, like other hospitals across Northwest Florida, has seen a rapid spike in hospitalizations due to the spread of the more contagious delta variant of COVID-19.
The Emerald Coast hospital and three other Ascension Sacred Heart hospitals are currently treating more COVID-19 patients than at any time during the prior two surges of the virus. In the Ascension Sacred Heart hospitals in Pensacola, Miramar Beach and Panama City, there were a total of 260 patients sickened by COVID-19 on Aug. 10. That is up 29 percent from a week earlier, and it is 12 times higher than it was on July 1.
"Safe and timely access to essential care is vitally important, and the safety of our patients and staff remains our top priority," said Henry Stovall, regional president of Ascension Sacred Heart's hospitals in Miramar Beach, Panama City and Port St. Joe. "Our Emerald Coast hospital is very busy and our staff is stretched in dealing with the ongoing influx of patients with COVID-19, but our dedicated teams are providing excellent care.
"We are still performing surgeries and procedures our patients need urgently or in an emergency," he added. "At the same time, we're utilizing all of our invaluable staffing resources and personnel in the most appropriate and effective manner to ensure care for every patient."
Within Ascension Sacred Heart's hospitals, 94 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients have not been vaccinated.
With the spread of the delta variant of the virus, they also have found that the disease is impacting younger patients. The average age of patients has dropped into the low 40s, which means many patients in their 20s and 30s are getting very sick. They are seeing fewer patients over 65 because most of those people have been vaccinated.
"The current surge is a public health crisis that we hoped would never happen, but the community needs to know that COVID-19 is hitting this community hard," Stovall said. "The surge has put great pressure on our hospitals, emergency departments and healthcare professionals. Our healthcare workers need the community's support to stop this surge now. The best tools we have available to stop COVID-19 are wearing masks in public indoor spaces and, most important, getting the vaccine."
Ascension Sacred Heart continues to urge everyone to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the community against COVID-19. The vaccines are safe and effective, and any possible side effects are greatly outweighed by the protection they provide against severe illness and death.