LAKE MARY, Fla. - Central Florida hospital systems are implementing new policies and procedures as they get ready to resume elective procedures next week.
Governor DeSantis issued an executive order on Wednesday detailing phase one of Florida’s re-opening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic. The order will allow hospital systems, dental offices orthodontic offices, endodontic offices, and other health care practitioners’ office to restart elective procedures on May 4.
Per the Governor’s order, AdventHealth President and CEO Daryl Tol said it has a significant amount of personal protective equipment, available beds, and ventilators in case there is a surge in coronavirus cases. Tol said that “we are ready for a surge if it comes and we are ready to getting back to some important procedure volume."
He also said patients and staff will see some changes when AdventHealth starts to offer elective procedures, ambulatory procedures, and office visits on Monday, citing that "we believe it is a safe time to reopen with the right steps and the right actions.”
Starting Monday, each patient will now be allowed to have one visitor. AdventHealth will provide and require everyone throughout its system to wear a mask and get their temperature checked. This rule will apply to all AdventHealth staff, doctors, vendors, patients and visitors.
Dr. Neil Finkler, Chief Medical Officer of Acute Care Services said that "the reason why the masking is so important is that protects that individual from shedding that virus and then contaminating the rest of us.”
AdventHealth will also prioritize cases that were delayed over the last six to eight weeks. All in-patients, patients undergoing procedures, doctors, staff, and vendors will also be tested for the coronavirus using a saliva test. Tol said the hospital system will pay for the tests if a patient cannot afford it.
“The big issue is… 1-2 percent of patients that are asymptomatic will be positive for the disease. We would like to identify that population and not do their operative procedure, their elective procedure,” Dr. Finkler added.
AdventHealth’s staff will also undergo periodic testing. Tol said "we believe a baseline test of our team and then on-going surveillance testing of our team is very important. You need to know your team is being tested.”
COVID-19 patients will be in place in an isolated environment. Tol said that "we have high-tech rooms that don’t allow the air from that room to leave that space and that has been a critical aspect in keeping the COVID-19 issue at our facilities in special units where we’re professionally ready to care for those environments.”
Tol said visitors and patients can expect to see signs encouraging social distancing inside its facilities, opportunities to do virtual check-ins and check-outs and the option for a patient to wait inside their vehicle until the doctor is ready to see them. Patients will also see more telemedicine visits.
In a statement, Orlando Health said all of its physician offices, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers, pharmacies and hospitals have implemented and strengthened policies and procedures to ensure the safety of its patients, guests and team. The health system is encouraging patients who have had procedures cancelled or delayed to reach out to their doctors to reschedule. “Delaying some appointments risks having them reappear as more severe conditions that could be more detrimental to the patient.”
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