DeSantis: Hospitals in Florida are 'safe places to be'

Posted at 12:27 PM, May 12, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Hospitals are safe places to be, and if you need urgent medical attention, you shouldn't be afraid to go to one.

That's the message from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who's urging residents to seek proper medical care if you need it, despite ongoing concerns with the coronavirus pandemic.

"I've been to so many hospitals during this time, met with so many great physicians and hospital executives, and I can tell you, these are very safe places to be," DeSantis said on Monday at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Fort Myers.


SOT: Gov. DeSantis on hospital safety

The governor said that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, hospitals in Florida and around the country saw a sudden drop in the number of patients coming in with heart problems and stroke symptoms.

"People were concerned about going in a medical environment given the advent of the coronavirus," DeSantis said. "I have not talked to a single physician that would recommend not coming in if you're experiencing those types of symptoms."

To date, DeSantis said Florida has sent the following personal protective equipment, or PPE, to health care workers and first responders across Florida:

  • More than 25 million masks
  • More than 10 million gloves
  • Nearly 1.7 million face shields
  • More than 1.1 million shoe covers
  • 462,000 gowns
  • More than 200,000 containers of hand sanitizer
  • 89,000 goggles
  • 39,000 coveralls

"It's been a very important mission, but it's really important to support the folks who are on the front lines," DeSantis said. "If you need medical attention, this is a safe place to be. Come in here, see the doctors, and keep yourself healthy."

When Josy Cartland dropped off her husband, Brian, at the emergency room at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, she didn't know if that was the last time she'd see him.

"It was terrifying because he and I had just recently been seeing reports online. You’re hearing about people never seeing their loved one again, and I’m like, that's the last place you want to go and drop off your loved one," said Cartland.

It was those fears that kept Cartland and her husband from going to the hospital.

For 14 hours, Brian had experienced severe nausea and weakness, so Josy called a nurse. Her advice was to go to the emergency room.

"It was then that the doctor pulled me to the side and he said, Mrs. Cartland, thank you for bringing him in," said Cartland. "He said, I just want you to know we have to rush right now. We need to go save your husband’s life right now. We don’t have time. If you would have waited any longer, he wouldn’t be here he would have probably passed at home."

Brian suffered what's known as a widow maker heart attack.

Dr. Eric Lieberman is the Medical Director of Cardiology for Tenet Health, and said they are seeing patients all too often delay medical care because of fears of COVID-19.

"It's this fear of COVID, and I am not trying to minimize the effects of COVID," said Lieberman. "This is a serious virus. This is not the flu. We need to be aware of what we’re dealing with, but fear of COVID is driving a lot of unnecessary complications with people staying at home and frankly of unnecessary deaths."

Three weeks now in the hospital, Brian is recovering from open heart surgery. Josy can't wait to bring him home this week

"Honestly, the facilities were clean, they were quiet, they are being monitored, so it was very strict. You can't even get in the hospital, so I felt good felt safe and I know he’s in a good place," said Josy.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus | We're Open South Florida

DeSantis added on Monday that Florida is seeing a decline in child immunizations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"If you're not keeping up on that, that's a problem," DeSantis said. "Follow the immunization schedule, continue to do it. It's safe to do it, and it's the right thing to do."

To see the recommended child vaccination schedule from the American Academy of Pediatrics, click here.