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Palm Coast Friday, Jul. 10, 2020 6 months ago

Flagler Health Department doubles staff to respond to increasing COVID-19 caseload

Health officials praised the city of Palm Coast, as well as Bunnell and Flagler Beach, for voting for mask mandates.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

The Department of Health in Flagler County’s staff will double soon, to respond to the increased cases of COVID-19.

Earlier this year, the DOH had 56 people on staff, according to Health Officer Robert Snyder. Last week, 14 staff arrived, including registered nurses, to assist with contact tracing among other tasks. He announced on July 10’s “Free For All Friday,” on WNZF, that another 40 were going to be hired.

He said in a later interview that the DOH is able to able to serve the community and is not strained, but this staffing will make sure it stays that way.

“We just don’t want to miss a beat when it comes to community testing,” Snyder said.

Testing has expanded recently. Call 313-4200 to schedule a test.

The 40 additional staff members, which will hopefully include many local hires once a process is finalized, will allow the current staff to return to normal duties at the Department of Health and be less involved in responding to the pandemic.

Among those who will likely be hired are four or five nurses who have been volunteering for months. In general, the state's hiring requirements have been relaxed due to the extraordinary circumstances, Snyder said.

The staffing is funded federally by the CARES Act. Gov. Ron DeSantis added $138 million to the state budget to assist the Florida DOH. Flagler’s share was $481,000 through Dec. 31.


Hospital status update

AdventHealth Palm Coast Chief Operating Officer Wally D’Aquino said that although the spike in cases has put pressure on some intensive care units, the Palm Coast facility is “doing well.”

If there is a surge in cases, AdventHealth can put its tent back up in “in a matter of days,” D’Aquino added. Ventilator and personal protective equipment supplies are also plentiful.

He encouraged residents not to delay going to the hospital if they need medical attention. Extensive precautions are taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the hospital.

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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