Health First is preparing for a possible COVID influx

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – As Brevard County’s COVID-19 cases begin to pick up again, the area’s hospitals are taking precautions to ensure they can cope with any influx of COVID inpatients they receive.

On Tuesday, Health First set up a hospital tent in front of the entrance to the emergency room at Holmes Regional Medical Center. Hours later, a similar tent was in the Palm Bay Hospital.

What you need to know

  • Health First put up a hospital tent as COVID cases rise
  • The tent is located in the Holmes Regional Medical Center and Palm Bay Hospital
  • Tents offer options when hospitals need more bed space for COVID patients
  • The tent will be operational in 24 to 48 hours

“What this means for us is really options and flexibility,” said Lance Skelly, spokesman for Health First. “Since we have other patients who come to the hospital for reasons other than COVID, we would like to be able to treat some people in a socially distant manner. So if we keep them out here, we can keep our patients separate and safe all the more, especially as more COVID patients are entering the hospital.

On Monday, the hospital announced that it would postpone “planned, non-urgent surgeries and procedures that require a hospital bed” from July 28 to August 15. This decision was made in order to enroll more COVID-19 patients and “provide clinical staff with additional support in critical areas”.

The Holmes Regional site has also converted a pediatric department into one for COVID-19 patients. The Health First hospital system currently treats around 150 inpatients, the vast majority of whom are unvaccinated. These numbers beat the previous high after the Christmas and New Year holidays, which was around 120 across the four hospitals.

“We’re seeing a much younger audience. The fact that we’re doing this should speak volumes pretty much, “Skelly said, referring to the additional campsite.

Vaccination efforts are picking up speed

Health First is part of the Brevard County’s Choir of Voices encouraging those who have not yet been vaccinated to get the vaccination. County officials pointed out that more than 2,100 people tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week alone, which contributed to a 20.3% positivity rate.

On Tuesday, several people came to the Health First vaccine clinic in Melbourne to get their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.

Among them was the nurse Eileen Pszczola. She said watching the recent effects of the Delta variant helped convince her that now was the time to get her shot.

“With the new surge that is surfacing and many of my friends are getting COVID, I just want to protect myself,” said Pszczola.

She said many people she knows are doing the same thing in the face of this recent surge in cases.

Another person who came to the clinic on Tuesday was jazz saxophonist and high school basketball coach Darrell Moody. He said he spoke to a family friend who works in the pharmaceutical industry who told him the syringe was safe.

He said he looked forward to speaking with family and friends about his experience, which he described as quick and painless.

“I can let them know I took it because some close family members recently died from the disease,” Moody said. “So, it’s pretty scary and better safe than sorry.”

Health First also opened a new vaccine clinic on July 26th at the Viera Health First Family Pharmacy site on North Wickham Road.

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