MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President and Chief Executive Officer of Jackson Health System, Carlos Migoya said 18-20% of the Jackson employees tested so far in July are positive for COVID-19. Up from 12% in June and just 7% prior to May 31.

Migoya said there are no plans for widespread testing of Jackson employees.

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Migoya was interviewed by CBS4’s Jim DeFede. Here is part of the interview:

Migoya: “As you well know, the numbers have been rising out for the last 14 days. And we’re at a point where we’re still balancing things out. We slowed down our elective surgeries last week, and we’ve been able to move the census around as some of those surgery patients are moving out – discharging, we’ve been able to replace those with COVID patients.”

“So we’ve been having a balance has not been as easy from an operational perspective. Obviously, we’ve been having a lot of challenges and continue to have challenges. Our census stays at eye level, but not an urgently high level. The concern that I’ve had and I continue to have in this basement themes. Over the next several weeks, we will have a major issue.”

“Yesterday, I got a phone call from the governor’s office saying that they can provide us through the contracting side up to 100 nurses is that we said we absolutely happy to do so. And that’s how the conversation got started.”

DeFede: “Well, I just want to be clear. So, did you request that they bring you nurses, did you request help from the state to send you nurses?

Migoya: “So, we didn’t talk about the challenges and they offered the ability to have nurses and when they offered that I actually took the chance to say, ‘Yes, we’ll take those extra hundred nurses,’ that we need those extra hundred nurses today know that we need the nurses over the next several weeks that these numbers will happen. Absolutely.”

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“So, we are using this right now to make sure that we take as many of these nurses as possible. We, these nurses will come over next several days. They’re not coming in one day.”

DeFede: “I’m confused though. You say you don’t need these hundred nurses right now. You’re predicting that you’re going to need them in the future yet. From the conversations I’ve had, whether it’s with Martha Baker or others inside the hospital, they say that staffing has been a major issue, that you have been trying to beef up staff by offering bonuses to employees, to work extra shifts. That hasn’t gone over very well.”

“One nurse described to me they said that she considers it chaos inside the situation. We’ve had Nurses describe to us situations where the ratio of nurses to patients in the ICU supposed to be one to two, but in some cases supposed to be one to one, depending on the level of care that person needs. And that’s not been able to be met.”

Migoya: “My point is, can we handle it today? Yes, we can handle it today. But the numbers keep creeping up. And we believe that that as the numbers continue to creep up, and the fact that our people are tired, we need to make sure we have relief. So that’s the reason for having the need for those extra hundred nurses. And we will continue to make sure that we have those hundred nurses, whether we have from the governor’s office, or wherever else.”

“In addition to that, we’ve over the last two weeks, we’ve hired an additional 80 nurses, those 80 nurses will be fully trained and ready to go in the next two to three weeks. So, therefore, these hundred nurses help us with those 80 nurses, and depending on what happens, this is a balancing game, Jim, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Today we have 340 patients with COVID at Jackson, that number could be 400 or 500. We need to balance this as we’re going through. I can’t turn the switch on and off in a day’s notice. It takes several weeks. And that’s why those nurses are needed.”

DeFede: “But let’s talk about testing. And let’s talk about what’s going on inside Jackson. Prior to June, the positivity rate among tests for Jackson employees was around 7%. In the month of June, it was closer to I think 11 or 12% positivity. But that was only, as I understand it, test staff that show symptoms. Should you not be doing more widespread testing, surveillance testing, to test more of the staff to try to get a handle on what’s walking through the door every day?

Migoya: “So what we’re doing is we’re testing patients, nurses are actually all employees that have symptoms. In addition to that, we do also contact tracing within our own system. So, therefore, if anyone of our employees are in contact with any of those are been positive, we test those as well.”

“That number has been you’re absolutely right with 7% before the end of May, it was 12% in the month of June for those people that we tested not for every employee, and right now the numbers run a little higher than that for numbers between 18 and 20%. So for the month of July, for those that we have tested, how many nurses are out?”

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“So right now, we have 32 nurses that are out for COVID positive. We have a total of 110 employees that are out for COVID positive. Those hundred nurses we’re talking about kind of helps us with those kinds of numbers as well.”