TAMPA, Fla. — AdventHealth implemented its "surge plan" several weeks ago as more cases of coronavirus were diagnosed across the state.
AdventhHealth West Florida Division campuses are preparing for a possible surge in incoming patients who require testing.
"We prepare for influenza season every single year and it's really the same kind of thing, like making sure we have staffing and we have equipment," said Dr. Robin McGuinness, Senior Executive Officer of Patient Outcomes with AdventHealth West Florida Division.
AdventHealth is preparing locations outside its hospital emergency rooms to triage patients who require care. Plans may be implemented as early as next week.
The hospital will begin drills and refine its process.
"Our hospitals have implemented their pandemic emergency plan for about a month now. We are going to take inventory of all our supplies to be sure that we have the proper equipment to keep our staff and patients safe in the event of a pandemic emergency," said Dr. McGuinness.
AdventHealth started implementing enhanced screening measures for patients, visitors and vendors at all Hillsborough, Hardee, Highlands, Marion, Pasco and Pinellas County hospital locations on Friday.
All patients and visitors will be asked several questions. Any visitor who answers "yes" to any of the screening questions will be unable to visit.
"We're going to ask them if they are experiencing any respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. We're going to ask them if they have had an international travel or have been on a cruise ship in the past 14 days," said Dr. McGuinness.
The hospital will also ask visitors if they have had contact with someone with a known or suspected respiratory illness.
Patients are being reminded if they have a fever, cough or flu symptoms, or if they have traveled internationally in the past two weeks, to call their Primary Care Provider before visiting the office.
AdventHealth has prepared a centralized location for testing patients for coronavirus. Patients will only be tested if they have been referred by an AdventHealth physician.
Once at the centralized location, a physician in protective gear will meet the patient at their vehicle and test for COVID-19. The samples will be sent to the Department of Health for verification.
"As a nurse, I'm telling everybody, you have to wash your hand. Hand hygiene is the single first line of defense in spreading germs," said Dr. Guinness.