By Peter D'Oench

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The chief medical officer for Broward Health said his four hospitals are facing a double surge of patients and that has been particularly challenging.

It’s a spike in both unvaccinated COVID patients and others who put off surgeries during the pandemic.

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Dr. Joshua Lenchus told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “Last year we really requested that people not forgo medical care and they came to this hospital when they needed help. Now they are coming here in droves. What is happening is that this surge of mainly unvaccinated people coming to the hospital with COVID is growing and really tapping our resources.”

Dr. Lenchus said there are at least 325 COVID patients at Broward Health and 97% are unvaccinated.

“We are concerned by the rise in cases of people requiring hospitalizations,” he said. “The nurses and doctors taking care of these folks are at wits’ end and they passed the point of burn out months ago and it’s really disheartening to know that for the past eight months we have had a vaccine and people are unwilling or simply deciding not to get the vaccines.”

There has also been an increase in pediatric patients with COVID.

Dr. Chad Perlyn, a pediatrician at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, said, “This is an indicator that it really can affect children and something our community needs to fully understand. Roughly 10% of our admissions are for COVID reasons. We are not seeing the same problem as some adult hospitals that are quite full.”

At the Jackson Health System’s seven hospitals, there are 363 COVID patients. Thirty-seven of them are vaccinated – that’s a rate of 10.2%.

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Doctors who spoke with CBS4 told CBS4 they are motivated by helping their patients and that helps them deal with the stress of coping with the surge of patients.

Dr. Leopoldo Arosemena, who has been at Jackson Memorial Hospital more than two decades, said, “You just take it one day at a time. You go over the basics and wear your mask and put on your PPE and you see your patients. You are trained to treat diseases and this is a new disease. We do the best we can fighting the car with the weapons we have. We ask people to take special measures and get vaccinated and that will keep them from passing it along to their loved ones.”

He said, “This is a job where we don’t do it for the money. We do it because we love it. You cannot pay enough to do what we are doing right now. I do what I can. When I treat people I feel very happy. When things don’t go well I feel very sad but I take it a day at a time.”

He added, “We have seen a lot of people without the vaccines that are getting COVID and dying. Even if you are vaccinated that doesn’t mean you are home free. You have to take other measures. The Delta variant is clearly a game changer. It is more aggressive.”

Dr. Phillipe Abreu said, “It’s not easy with this Pandemic. It’s been over a year now. But we have to keep fighting. We have a lot of people to treat. Get the vaccine. It’s our only hope. Get the vaccine.”

Doctors, nurses and employees are under so much stress that demand for help from human services has more than doubled from before the start of pandemic.

Tala Teymour is an associate vice president in human resources and in charge of total rewards and human wellness.

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She said, “We offer virtual programs and yoga and meditation. We also have on-site services if that works for them. We have Wellness Wednesdays where we have programs and different things and wellness activities. We also have massage therapies.”

Peter D'Oench