NewsPolk County


Tampa Bay hospitals work to protect patients, staff amid COVID-19 cases

Posted at 5:30 PM, Mar 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 17:38:58-04

LAKELAND, Fla.— Lakeland Regional Health confirmed it is treating an 88 year old man for COVID-19.

The hospital said at last check, the man was in stable condition. Officials said he was transported by Polk County EMS and was identified through screening protocols in the emergency department.


The hospital said about six team members are staying at home as a precaution. Polk County EMS confirmed two team members who helped transport the patient are doing the same.

“80 percent of individuals will have a mild condition but your mild infection could make another person in our community sicker than you. We are worried about the most vulnerable in our community and we don’t want an unknown infection in you to spread to someone else. If you’re mildly ill stay home,” said Dr. Daniel Haight, Vice President of community health.

On Friday, the hospital updated the community on its preparedness in handling coronavirus.

“We have changed our paths of travel we have changed our treatment protocols. People who come to the emergency department may find they are asked more questions, may find they are routed to parts of the ED and if hospitalized will be routed to different parts of the medical center. This is all in line with CDC and state recommendations for treatment protocols and for screening procedures,” said Dr. Timothy Regan, the president of Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center.

In total, Regan said they’ve sent out 68 tests. One was positive and some are pending.

As of Friday morning, the Florida Department of Health announced 88 additional positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the total cases in Florida to 520. Seven of them are in Polk County.

“We are having daily meetings between emergency department, infectious disease, pulmonology, critical care to make sure we are consistent with the care we are providing and with the screening protocols,” said Dr. Regan. “The staff in the ED are following our guidelines, we have the equipment we need them to understand we are doing continuous training every time new team members come on for shifts. We are re-addressing what sort of protection they have to take.”

The hospital said it’s also working with other medical partners and hospitals to understand each other’s status and capabilities, and is working to make sure it can maintain appropriate supply levels.

“We typically operate 72 ventilators here at the medical center and through our ability to bring in temporary units and repurpose equipment we have in the other organizations such as anesthesia machines we would be able to operate up to 172 ventilators should the situation require that,” said Danielle Drummond, the CEO president-elect of Lakeland Regional Health System.

Addressing the medical community as a whole, the hospital’s president and CEO said they’d like to see more testing capability and personal protective equipment.

“We would love more PPE to be available we believe we have enough and we’re utilizing it widely, but it would be comforting to know there are national stockpiles adequate,” Elaine Thompson said.

Other hospitals are also working to protect patients and staff.

A spokesperson for BayCare gave ABC Action News a statement:

BayCare’s top priority is the health and well-being of our patients, team members and the community. We’ve been preparing and training our teams for weeks on how to properly and safely care for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients at facilities across the system.

Tampa General Hospital released this list of safety measures it’s taken:

* Any patient who presents at TGH symptomatic of COVID-19 and who meets the criteria for testing will be placed in a negative pressure isolation room.  Tested patients who don’t meet admission criteria are sent home with instructions to remain in quarantine and will be followed by the Department of Health.

* Patients who need to be admitted are placed in a secure isolated wing of the hospital with negative pressure isolation rooms, and all necessary precautions are taken care by team members and physicians to keep patients and everyone safe.  

* Our goal is to keep people that are contagious out of the Emergency Department to minimize the spread of disease.

* This week we implemented our outdoor triage unit on our campus to screen ER patients symptomatic of COVID-19. This is NOT a public drive by testing unit. This is only for TGH ER patients and is designed to prevent overflow of patients in our ER.  TGH has the ability to perform in-house COVID-19 testing for our team members, patients and physicians.

* We are limiting visitor access  to one designated visitor per patient for adult patients, with both parents allowed for pediatric patients. Obstetric patients may have a partner and a certified birth attendant during delivery.

* We have decreased our entry points and anyone entering will be screened. Starting Monday, we will have technology at each visitor entrance to scan individuals for body temperature. And visitor with elevated temperature will not be permitted inside.

 * As of 3/20/2020, Elective surgeries for international and out of state patients have been suspended. This may change as we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation.

 * The TGH Urgent Care powered by Fast Track Carrollwood and Brandon locations only are dedicated screening and collection sites for COVID-19 testing. No appointment or referral/prescription is needed. Community members can also use telehealth for screening if they aren’t feeling well, where you can talk to a doctor safely from home. or download in the app store.

AdventHealth said its top priority is safety of patients, team members and the community. It released this information:

AdventHealth Wauchula, AdventHealth Connerton Long Term Acute Care Hospital and our two Transitional Care Units at AdventHealth Dade City and AdventHealth North Pinellas are following new state guidelines that no longer allow visitors in order to protect our highest risk patients. Exceptions are limited and will be made for end-of-life situations only.

At all other AdventHealth West Florida Division hospital locations, we are screening all visitors, patients and vendors. Everyone will be screened for international and cruise travel in the past 14 days, asked if they have had contact with someone with a known or suspected respiratory illness; and will be asked if they are experiencing symptoms of a respiratory infection such as fever, cough, sore throat. Anyone who answers yes to any of the screening questions will be unable to visit and will be provided information on where to receive appropriate care.

Additionally, if a person responds yes to the screening questions and meet criteria for swabbing, they will be provided with a mask and our team members will follow CDC and FL Department of Health protocols for appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to assist the patient in next steps for care.

Visitors who are sick are asked not to visit patients or enter the facility unless they are seeking personal medical care. We encourage visitors who may be sick to FaceTime, Skype or call their loved ones who may be in our care. For specific information on visitation age restriction and hours, please call the AdventHealth facility ahead of time as they may vary.