Ascension Sacred Heart seeing record increase in COVID hospitalizations

Is the first hospital in Bay County to receive COVID vaccine.
Is the first hospital in Bay County to receive COVID vaccine.(WJHG/WECP)
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 7:40 PM CDT
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(Aug. 11, 2021 -- Ascension Sacred Heart Bay, 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 hospitals in the Panhandle 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 Miramar Beach, Panama City and Port St. Joe, there are a total of 134 patients sickened by COVID-19. That is up 18 percent from a week ago, and it is 10 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 Bay 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. 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, we 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. We 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.