Florida is one of several states that has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and related inpatient stays. The number of confirmed cases in Florida ballooned from around 100,000 on June 22 to more than 223,000 as of July 8, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Only around 14% of adult intensive care beds in Florida are available, with 46 hospital ICUs at full capacity, Agency for Health Care Administration data show.
"The number of COVID cases in our hospitals are increasing daily, and we need to ensure that our caregivers and hospitals are in a position to provide safe, effective, and compassionate care to our patients. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, making adjustments as necessary," Dr. Ravi Chari, president of HCA Healthcare West Florida Division, said in prepared remarks, emphasizing that HCA's emergency departments are safe for those experiencing a medical emergency.
The announcement follows other Florida health systems including BayCare Health System, Jackson Health System, Memorial Healthcare and Baptist Health that have halted non-urgent procedures again. But responses to spikes in COVID-19 cases across the country have varied by organization as doctors and administrators weigh the impact of delayed care and steep revenue losses versus strict containment efforts.
"These are never easy decisions to make, as so many people see their lives improve after a non-urgent procedure," Tommy Inzina, CEO of BayCare Health System, said in prepared remarks. "But this is about making sure our community has the maximum resources at its disposal to address the second peak of this pandemic."
While many rural hospitals were not hit as hard as their urban peers, even partial reductions of their elective procedures and related imaging services have a major financial impact, providers said.
"We are really concerned about the fall," said Pam Tillman, administrator of LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes (N.C.).
Quincy, Ill.-based Blessing Health System is hoping to recoup most of its lost revenue from delayed elective surgeries by October, but everything could change quickly if COVID-19-related hospitalizations ramp back up, said Maureen Kahn, CEO of the health system, noting that the state health department can pause surgeries again if beds fill up.
"We have been watching some of the states that have not only seen increases in COVID-19 cases but hospitalizations," said Kahn, adding that they expected to see more cases because of increased access to testing but rising hospitalizations are worrisome. "If beds fill up, that may prohibit us from doing surgeries, which would impact revenue."