Central Florida hospital systems increase safety measures as they resume elective procedures

Hospital systems across Central Florida will resume elective procedures on Monday, as phase one of reopening Florida begins.

Following Governor DeSantis' executive order last week, hospitals have put additional safety protocols and procedures in place to guarantee the safety of patients, visitors, and staff. Several hospital systems, including Halifax Health, AdventHealth and Orlando Health, said they will screen visitors who come to the hospital and do temperature checks. AdventHealth is also changing its no-visitor policy and allowing each patient to have one visitor

Halifax Health President and CEO Jeff Feasel said it is safe to come to the hospital and is encouraging people to get treatment if they need it. He said that "we practice tremendous infection control practices every day in the healthcare environment and when you hear the hospital is a safer environment than Publix and Lowes and some of these retail places it’s true."

Every hospital patient scheduled to undergo a medical procedure will also be tested for COVID-19. In a statement released last week, Orlando Health said it would also test mothers who are in labor. AdventHealth said all of its staff will undergo periodic testing for the coronavirus. AdventHealth President and CEO Daryl 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.”

Orlando Health and AdventHealth will require everyone inside its buildings to wear face masks and all hospital systems will practice social distancing. Hospitals are also isolating COVID-19 patients to keep them safely away from other patients.

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Tol added 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.”

Halifax Health said its COVID-19 patients are treated in an area that is separate from the main hospital and staff in that unit do not work in the main hospital. As of Sunday, Halifax Health said it was treating seven COVID-19 patients.

Hospitals have said they will prioritize elective procedures that were canceled or delayed because of COVID-19 and will address the more serious cases first. The President and CEO of Halifax Health said it will ease into elective procedures starting with 25 on Monday and 40 on Tuesday. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Halifax Health was doing about 80 elective procedures a day.

Orlando Health Vice-President and System Chief Quality Officer George Ralls, MD said Orlando Health has more than 150 patients who have delayed a neurosurgery procedure because of the pandemic. “We are planning to do whatever we need to meet the needs of these patients,” Dr. Ralls said. “It could mean that our O.R.s are busy seven days a week for 12 to 14 hours a day. We are working through those logistics.”


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