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As local demand intensifies, wait lists for COVID-19 testing sites grow longer

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 6:08 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG) -

The demand for COVID-19 testing is intensifying, forcing many to wait hours or even days for a test.

In the last week Nation’s Best Family Health Care has seen a boom in demand for COVID testing.

”Last Friday it exploded and then it doubled that day, and then it doubled the day after that, and so this week we’ve been seeing about 100 or more patients per day for COVID testing,” Dr. Roman Nation, owner of Nation’s Best Family Health Care, said.

Dr. Nation said the clinic is trying to prioritize those who’ve had direct exposure to COVID-19.

”The message we’re trying to get out to folks is to basically prioritize essential workers and especially health care workers because those are the ones we need on the front lines to be able to work,” he said.

The clinic had to create a waiting list due to the skyrocketing demand for testing. This week the list started off with 30 names- now it’s more than 200 patients long.

”Well, at our mobile drive-thru [Tuesday] we literally had the line filled before the official start time which was 9:00 a.m. and we tested 330 people [Tuesday],” Public Information Officer for the Florida Department of Health in Bay County Heather Kretzer said.

Nevertheless, Dr. Nation believes the situation is serious.

“I had a gentleman that was 48-years-old who just passed away in the hospital from COVID-19 pneumonia,” Dr. Nation said. “That’s not a hoax that’s real. A wife lost her husband and a dad lost his son. Those are real stories.”

As of Wednesday, Bay County had zero hospital ICU beds available. That’s according to the Agency for Health Care Administration.

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center issued a statement saying:

“Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center remains prepared to safely deliver high quality healthcare to all patients. It is important to understand that reported bed capacity is based on licensed bed capacity and is a fluctuating figure that routinely changes through the course of the day as patients are admitted and discharged. Like many hospitals, we routinely operate at high capacity rates and have surge plans in place that allow for expanding our capacity beyond the licensed bed number. Over the last few weeks, the majority of our ICU patients have been admitted for health concerns unrelated to COVID-19. While we have the bed capacity, staffing, supplies and equipment we need at this time, we continue to plan by accessing the resources, support and best practices across our HCA Healthcare family. This helps ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve as the situation continues to evolve, including accessing additional ventilators or adding bed capacity to certain areas of our hospital if the need arises.

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center has prepared for months to respond to impacts of COVID-19, and we continue to strictly implement guidelines established by the CDC. Additionally, we work closely with our federal, state and local partners to stay up-to-date on the latest information and guidance. We have implemented several measures to safely and effectively care for patients experiencing both COVID and non-COVID health concerns. Our focus on enhanced safety precautions, such as universal masking, help us to ensure the protection of our patients, colleagues and visitors.”

Ascension Sacred Heart Bay also issued a statement saying:

""The ICU capacity at Ascension Sacred Heart Bay fluctuates daily and the ICU often operates near capacity. This is due in part to the hospital's role as the area's only Trauma Center and because the hospital cares for patients requiring complex surgeries such as open heart surgery.

We are currently able to manage our ICU capacity, but if we do reach a point where we have a sustained surge of patients requiring intensive care, we have a surge plan that allows the hospital to expand our ICU capacity and overall bed capacity.

Our hospital is fortunate to have a separate 18-bed unit for COVID-19 patients that is staffed as needed. It provides care for all levels of patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or they are suspected of having COVID-19. These numbers are not included in the numbers published by the state Agency for Health Care Administration because the bed staffing is variable and the unit is only open to COVID 19 patients or those under investigation.

We continue to follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our care team stands ready to meet the needs of the community during the coronavirus pandemic. Our hospital has implemented strict safety precautions to protect our patients and staff who receive within our hospital and the emergency department. We remain in close contact with local and state public health agencies, public officials and other area hospitals.”

For more information on where to be tested for COVID-19 click here, or here for information in Spanish.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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