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AdventHealth Lake Wales Official Gives COVID Vaccine Update

AdventHealth Lake Wales is having no major issues in handling Covid-19 patients, according the Chief Operating Officer Rebecca Brewer, and expects to have vaccinations available to city residents 65 and older in the "upcoming weeks."

Brewer updated city leaders during a regularly scheduled commission meeting Jan. 8, noting that as of that date, the local hospital had 11 patients who had tested positive for the Coronavirus, and only one of those was in the intensive care unit. Another five patients were "under investigation" but still waiting for their test results. The hospital has 160 total beds.

"We have seen a major increase in the COVID infection. Actually, my COVID cennsus has almost doubled, but the good news is it's not nearly as intensive as it was when we started through this journey with COVID," Brewer said.

Brewer, who has been at Lake Wales for about 4 1/2 year now, indicated vaccinations of doctors and nurses at the hospital started Jan. 7.

"We are working to get our staff vaccinated, but we are not mandating it," she said. "I have talked with many of our doctors, and I myself received my vaccination yesterday. There have been very little side effects. We're doing everything to encourage it."

Plans for making the vaccination available to city residents are in the works, she said, but an exact timetable is still unclear, and will be determined in large part by when the county receives its allotment of vaccinations.

"At this time the vaccine is not available to the general public. However, Advent Health is developing a robust community vaccination plan and anticipates beginning this process in Central Florida for people 65 years of older in upcoming weeks," she indicated. "We understand the need, we understand the anxiousness for our people to get it."

She said the changes since AdventHealth took over operations there early last fall have been positive.

For example, ICU patients are now monitored remotely around the clock by specialists, not just on site staff.

"Since September, we have critical care medicine teams watching patients 24 hours a day. If they pick up anything that's changing, they call immediately," Brewer said.

The new service also means if on site staff has questions, they can usually get immediate answers.

"Within about 20 seconds we have contact with a critical care specialist," Brewer said. "We have really elevated the care we can provide for our most vulnerable patients. What we have available to us is overwhelming. I've never felt so well supported."

Deputy Mayor Gibson said Lake Wales has always been appreciative of the local health care operation, but even more so now.

"The hospital has always been a wonderful resource within this small town and one of our unique characteristics. And now with AdventHealth it's really a tremendous asset," he observed.


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