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Lee Health over capacity; offers free telehealth

Dr. Larry Antonucci and Armando Llechu at a news conference Thursday
Cary Barbor
Dr. Larry Antonucci (l.) and Armando Llechu at a news conference Thursday

Lee Health reports that the combination of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic and the return of seasonal residents means that the hospital system is overcrowded.

At a press conference Thursday, President and CEO of Lee Health Dr. Larry Antonucci broke down how full the hospital system is.

“We were hoping that with the omicron surge beginning to dissipate, that we would see better capacity here, but it really hasn't happened. Yesterday and today we were at 108 percent of our capacity,” he said.

The hospital has implemented free telehealth services,whereby patients can speak to a nurse practitioner or a physician and get care without coming in. In addition, they have suspended elective surgery that requires an overnight stay, and are moving patients under age 29 to the Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Chief Officer of Hospital Operations Armando Llechu urges people not to automatically come to the emergency department for care.

“If you are having mild covid symptoms, I would ask you to please leverage our free telehealth service. If you are having respiratory distress and are having major covid symptoms, then yes, call 911 and come into our ER. But please know that when you come to an urgent care center or one of our ERs, if you are coming in for a minor condition, you are likely going to wind up waiting longer than you expect and longer than you would like,” said Llechu. 

He added that while patients with a heart attack or stroke would have a wait time of zero, patients coming in with something mild might have to wait 8 to 10 hours to be seen.

Access Lee Telehealth here. It is free.