Some relief at last! Panama City’s 2 hospitals see sizable drop in new COVID-19 patients – The News Herald

PANAMA CITY — Both of Panama City’s hospitals have seen significant drops in new COVID-19 patients after having high numbers for more than a month.

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center and Ascension Sacred Heart Bay have reported recent declines in hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The decrease comes as a relief, as both hospitals have encountered growing numbers of positive cases in the past several weeks, placing greater strain on their employees, hospital officials say.

Dr. Neil Kooy, chief medical officer at Gulf Coast Regional, said that about 34% of his hospital was filled with COVID-19 patients.  

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“In the span of one week, Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center has experienced a 25% decrease in the number of COVID hospitalizations,” Kooy said. “We are encouraged by this recent reduction in COVID-19 hospitalizations and hope this trend continues.”

In a recent emailed statement, Ascension Sacred Heart, which operates hospitals in Panama City, Miramar Beach and Port St. Joe, announced there were a total of 115 COVID-19 patients between the three facilities — a drop from 136 patients a week earlier. 

The highest number of COVID-19 patients admitted to the three Ascension hospitals in total for this most recent surge was 154 cases on Aug. 19. The three hospitals had a total of six COVID-19 patients on July 4, shortly before the latest surge in infections began.

Ascension officials noted that of all the COVID-19 patients who have come to its hospitals since July, 54% were under 50 years old.

Dealing with a growing wave of COVID-19 patients on top of regular caseloads has been a struggle for many Ascension workers, said Henry Stovall, Ascension’s regional president.

“After 18 months of caring for people who are very sick due to COVID-19, our front-line healthcare staff are weary and stressed,” Stovall said. “They have been heroic in putting their own safety on the line to provide compassionate care to all of our patients around the clock.”

Kooy said the medical staff at Gulf Coast also was committed to providing continued care during the strains of the pandemic.

“Our team of dedicated healthcare heroes at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center are to be commended for their unwavering dedication of providing the highest level of care to the patients we serve,” Kooy said. “Words cannot truly express how appreciative I am for all of their continued efforts throughout the pandemic.”

Meanwhile, Gulf Coast and Ascension are requesting the public’s help in fighting the spread of the virus.

“We want to remind the community of the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Kooy said. “The COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most safe and effective tools we have to help mitigate the spread of the virus and we urge Bay County residents who have not received the vaccine to consider becoming vaccinated.”

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