SARASOTA, Fla. — Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the state of Florida.
Last February, a Manatee County man was admitted to Doctor’s Hospital of Sarasota with COVID-19 symptoms.
Back then, the CDC did not allow testing unless the person had traveled to a COVID dense country, or was around someone who had. The patient had not. He was in the hospital for six days before the CDC changed its testing requirements.
The test was sent out and it came back positive.
"We all got called and we were shocked. We did not think we were going to have the first patient here," said Dr. Michael Schandorf-Lartey, M.D. and Chief Medical Officer at Doctor's Hospital.
The patient recovered but it was just the beginning.
In one year, there have been close to two million positive cases in the state and more than 30,000 Florida residents have died from COVID-19.
Doctor’s Hospital staff say it's been the most challenging year of their careers, especially when patients were dying and their families couldn’t be with them.
"That picture of a loved one sitting outside of a glass window or door and looking at their family who was struggling for their life, that takes a big toll on you emotionally," said Schandorf-Lartey.
Bob Ross was one of those patients.
"When I was admitted to Doctor’s Hospital, I was at death’s door," said Ross.
Ross was in Doctor’s Hospital sick with COVID for more than a month. On Christmas Eve he was well enough to go home.
"I am here today and improving with baby steps every day because of the crew at Doctor’s Hospital and because of my family," said Ross.
Staff says in one year so much has changed including the availability of PPE, local rapid testing, and now a COVID-19 vaccine.
"Over the past year with all the changes that have come at us and how well we’ve adapted as a team, I know that anything that comes up, we’ll be able to take care of it as long as we’re taking care of each other," said Jamie Florio, RN in the COVID unit at Doctor's Hospital.
Leaders at the hospital say they take pride in the fact that none of their staff has contracted COVID while working.