Dr. Jeffrey Stalnaker: Health First Hospitals Maintain Capacity to Care for Brevard County

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Health First is prepared to protect Brevard

Health First Chief Physician Executive Dr. Jeffrey Stalnaker: At Health First we are prepared to protect Brevard. Hospital occupancy rates vary throughout the day, but Health First continues to have capacity to treat patients.

During the midst of a storm, we are stronger, together. Recently you may have received information offering an impression of a shortage of Hospital Beds in Brevard County, specifically citing Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Beds.

While the intention to inform the public is important, we must recognize these numbers are a mere snapshot and do not provide the full scope of services available to our community. At Health First we are prepared to protect Brevard.

Recognizing the potential uptick in patients due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Health First increased its specialized respiratory capability to 208 negative pressure beds.

It is important to understand an ICU bed is needed for severely sick patients, not just those infected by COVID-19. Of the patients who require hospitalization for COVID-19, on average only 23% require ICU-level care. A typical COVID-19 patient can receive exceptional care in a Respiratory Care Unit bed.

Our goal is to provide our patients the right care, at the right time, and at the right place. Hospital occupancy rates vary throughout the day, but Health First continues to have capacity to treat patients.

Patients can transition out of an ICU bed to other beds based upon their individual condition. And even with the rise in COVID-19 cases, our hospitals are not overrun and we have the capacity, equipment and supplies to care for Brevard.

We know the concern for COVID-19 and are often asked how the community can join us in the fight to protect Brevard. Health First strongly urges every Brevard resident to take personal responsibility and follow the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) guidelines of wearing a facemask, maintaining social distance of at least six feet and frequent handwashing.

We know Florida summers are hot and it is inconvenient to wear masks, but this virus is containable and we all must do our part to take care of one another.

The threat we face is serious, and we must all take the necessary safety precautions to slow the spread of this terrible virus or our hospitals will face the same challenges as those in New York.

For more than 80 years Health First has been here for Brevard and we will continue our legacy of service throughout this pandemic.


Dr. Jeffrey Stalnaker is the Chief Physician Executive at Health First, Central Florida’s only fully integrated delivery network (IDN) and employs over 9,000 associates. The integrator of its IDN is Health First Health Plans, offering a wide variety of health insurance options across Central Florida. In addition, it operates four hospitals: Health First’s Cape Canaveral Hospital (opened in 1962), Holmes Regional Medical Center (opened as Brevard Hospital in 1937 and serving as Brevard County’s only Trauma Center), Palm Bay Hospital (opened in 1992) and Viera Hospital (opened in 2011) and is home to Brevard County’s only Level II Trauma Center. Health First Medical Group is the largest multi-specialty physician group on the Space Coast. Health First also offers numerous outpatient and wellness services, including Health First Aging Services, Health First Pro-Health & Fitness Center, Home Care and Hospice of Health First.

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