Medical Leaders Talk COVID-19


Lee Health Town Hall Meeting

The leadership team of Lee Health held a virtual hour-long Town Hall Meeting via Facebook on Thursday afternoon, June 4, to discuss the hospital system’s steps to treat and contain the COVID-19 virus. Representing Lee Health were its President & CEO, Dr. Larry Antonucci; Dr. Alex Daneshmand, its Chief Quality & Patient Safety Officer; Chief Patient Care & Nursing Officer Dr. Lisa Sgarlata; and Dr. Bill Hearn, the Physician Leadership Council Chairman. Moderating the Town Hall Meeting was David Collins, the Chair of the Lee Health Board of Directors.

“I am very proud to be part of the Lee Health team for over 30 years, and the last three as the CEO,” began Dr. Antonucci. “It has been amazing to watch every single day what we have all gone through and seen over the last three months, in unprecedented, difficult and changing times throughout the pandemic. Thank you to our community throughout this entire effort for the amount of gifts we received of flowers, food and facemasks, as our staff appreciates those tremendously. The Southwest Florida community has done everything it can to flatten the curve of the pandemic, so that the amount of patients did not overwhelm the healthcare system, but now that we are reopening the community, we must continue social distancing, wearing masks out in public, and handwashing to protect the community and prevent another wave.”

Dr. Antonucci explained that Lee Health has been part of the Southwest Florida community “for over 100 years now and will be here for a long time to come! We must continue to educate the community in this unprecedented time to contain the pandemic. At Gulf Coast Hospital, we fast-tracked the opening of 216 new beds to treat COVID-19 patients, through the cooperation of our incredible staff, contractors and regulatory agencies. We remind everyone, however, that it is safe to get care at any of our locations, so please do not hesitate, as we do everything possible to keep you and your family safe. Today, I am happy to announce an easing of visitation restrictions due to COVID-19; beginning Monday, June 8, we will allow one visitor-per-patient, though we will screen that visitor by taking their temperature and they must wear a mask throughout their entire visit. This will assist in the healing process, even on this limited basis, to support their families.”

Don’t Delay Medical Care

The panel fielded roughly 25 questions either from Collins or submitted online from the general public. Included among their answers were these responses. Dr. Daneshmand addressed who should receive a COVID-19 test. “Anyone who has a fever or cold-like symptoms, body aches, chills, sore throat or any symptom that does not seem to make sense to them should take the test.”

When asked if it safe to go to a hospital or doctor’s office, Dr. Hearn stated, “This is the most important question of the public, as they must have confidence in the healthcare system and doctors, so it is not just enough to say ‘Yes’ but a resounding ‘YES!’ It is critical for our public to know it is safe to come to Lee Health, and that is not just through my plan or the Lee Health plan or that of individual practitioners or the Southwest Florida medical community, but that we have all come together to establish necessary safety protocols, including masks, hygiene and social distancing. Even with all this, there are some who do not yet have this confidence, so we expanded our telemedical care service, seeing over 800 patients a day. Know that our Emergency Departments have seen over 100,000 patients safely since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, so do not delay your care.”

Dr. Sgarlata explained who should wear protective masks: “Those with compromised respiratory issues should always use one whenever they are outside their home. For all others, it depends: if you are walking outside, you probably do not need one, but if you’re inside a grocery store, for example, wear one.”

Dr. Antonucci discussed the recent local and national protests over the George Floyd murder: “We are stronger together and we stand with our employees, patients, families and community to ensure we treat everyone fairly across every level of society, because as a society, we are better than that!”

Healthcare Heroes

Each of the physicians provided closing comments: Dr. Hearn stated “It is an honor to represent all our medical staff today. We encourage our entire community to practice social distancing, as it goes hand-in-hand with proper hygiene and wearing masks out in public as well as in our medical facilities. I hope our discussions instill in you a huge confidence in your healthcare system.” Dr. Sgarlata thanked “all our frontline workers who serve so well in these unprecedented times with courage and bravery. The respect you show them is amazing and if you have the opportunity, please congratulate them, as they are truly heathcare heroes!”

Dr. Daneshmand stressed, “I want to tell our community the Lee Health System is probably one of the safest hospitals in the entire State of Florida, so reinforce to your families that we are safe to visit for your healthcare needs. You have my personal assurance that when you come to us, you will receive the highest quality of care with the most compassion. Our staff are truly heroes, because despite the risk of the pandemic and the risk that they could possibly take it home to their own families, they come back to work every day, and that tells you how much they care about this community and you as their patients.”

“We have been through a lot together these past few months,” concluded Dr. Antonucci. “The Southwest Florida community stands tall in the COVID-19 battle. Please do not delay your healthcare, as we are here for you every step along the way. We look forward to caring for you and serving you, as we are Lee Health Strong!”


Lee County
COVID-19 Info
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
Total positive cases: 2422
Total deaths: 126

Average # new Lee cases/day

April 2 -8:                   31.4 avg. new cases/day
April 9 -15:                 26.4
April 16 – 22:              20.3


May 20  – 26 :            57.7 avg. new cases/day
May 27  – June 2:       42.9
June 3 – 9:                49.4

Lee Health Stats

Current hospitalized COVID patients: 121
Ventilators: 75% available
ICU beds: 5% available

Hospital Census:

Bed Capacity used: 78%
(10% COVID-19 patients)