FALL 2021: 35
burnout. For a year, the nurses and other
health-care workers have put in the extra
shifts, the extended hours, and they are exhausted.
Some opt for per diem positions.
“People are tired,” Stalnaker said.
Masks remain mandatory at hospitals. The
A Health First team member administers the COVID-19 vaccine to a young patient.
Diagnostic Center at Viera Medical Plaza
have been working under reduced hours and
services. Health First Diagnostic Center in
Melbourne temporarily closed, and patients
were encouraged to visit the Health First
Medical Group locations for routine tests.
Patients planning elective surgeries will
have to cool their heels for some time.
Parrish and Health First decided to postpone
scheduled non-emergency surgeries by
early August to redirect resources, primarily
staffing, to emergency departments, ICU and
inpatient care units.
Space may have been at a premium, but it
wasn’t the biggest issue.
“It’s more of a staffing issue than a bed
issue,” said Health First chief physician executive
Dr. Jeffrey Stalnaker during a July 30
news conference.“We’re able to flex beds for
critical care patients.”
Brevard hospital staffing reflects a national
trend of staffing shortages due to pandemic
STEWARD MEDICAL GROUP
Dr. Nik Moradi, medical director of Critical Care and
Pulmonology at Melbourne Regional Medical Center,
believes the pandemic crisis will continue for some time.
policy requires all visitors to wear
face masks, regardless of their
At the beginning of the pandemic,
personal protective equipment, or
PPE, was in short supply, but that is
not the case this time around.
“At Parrish, our goal early on was to
have 365 days of PPE supply, so we’re
well prepared,” said Loftin.
At the end of July, Parrish reinstituted
its no-visitor policy. Health First
followed in early August. Visitors
were not allowed inside except in
certain situations such as labor and
postpartum patients, hospice patients
and pediatric patients. However, video
visitations are available on request.
Like Parrish and Health First, the
three Steward hospitals in the area —
Melbourne Regional Medical Center,
Rockledge Regional Medical Center
and Sebastian River Medical Center
— have all experienced déjà vu with
“There’s been an increase in volume
across all three facilities,” said Dr. Nik
Moradi, medical director of Critical
Care and Pulmonology at Melbourne
Regional Medical Center. “Our
admission rates are way up and we
project it to continue for some while.”
Moradi noted that among the patients
admitted with COVID-19 symptoms,
98-99 percent were unvaccinated.
Unlike Parrish and Health First, the
Steward hospitals didn’t postpone
elective procedures. In fact, expanded
hours allowed for previously canceled
procedures to be scheduled as quickly
as possible. However, a strict visitor
and masking policy was in effect and
ERs were reorganized for the safety
of patients. The system continued
to encourage alternative methods of
electronic communication via Skype,
etc., between patients and loved ones.
The county’s Emergency Management
office implemented weekly Facebook
Live updates beginning early in
August. During the pandemic’s first
peak, the Department of Health
and Brevard County Emergency
Management hosted a weekly panel
of county officials, including those in
public safety and public schools, to