Patients who test positive for COVID will be listed in hospitalization count, no matter why they are there

More people are testing positive for COVID-19 in the hospital after being admitted for something else, doctors say, and those positive results are added to the list of patients hospitalized with COVID.

"Just for context, if you ask me about three weeks ago, I would have said we had about 60 COVID positive individuals within the hospitals. Now, three weeks later, we're about up to 750," said Dr. Nishant Anand, the chief medical officer for BayCare Health System. "What we are seeing, though, is 25% of those people that are admitted with COVID are there for something else."

The Florida Hospital Association said hospitals statewide are treating more patients who come in for one medical emergency and end up with a second diagnosis of COVID, typically with milder symptoms.

"They have been using temporary staffing agencies to a far greater extent than they normally would, all intending to ensure that there are health care services available to those in need of hospitalization," said Mary Mayhew, the chief executive officer of Florida Hospital Association. "So in areas of the state with high vaccination rates, they're likely to see more individuals who are hospitalized, testing positive for COVID, but they're there for other reasons."

READ: Health officials let COVID-infected nurses and healthcare workers keep working

As omicron surges, it’s adding pressure to an already strained system.

"When people tested positive and they're there for something else, it still takes quite a bit of resources because you think about it, we still have to safeguard our team members, physicians and other patients, so we will isolate these individuals," said Anand. "We always try to we always focus on making sure that our hospitals and procedural areas are as safe as possible for everybody."

Dr. Anand said BayCare tests patients before they go into surgery and those who show COVID-like symptoms. Doctors said the trend shows how safety measures are working.

"On the positive front, it's affirmation that our vaccination practices are working because a lot of these people are coming in, they've been vaccinated. They've been boosted. They're having a minor illness related to COVID, but they're dealing with another medical issue," said Anand.

Doctors said getting vaccinated and boosted is the best way to protect yourself from showing up to the hospital with severe disease from COVID.

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