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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2020 3 months ago

'A high-risk place': AdventHealth, Halifax Health, restrict patient visitation

Currently, AdventHealth Daytona Beach and Palm Coast both have one confirmed case of COVID-19.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

No visitation. No elective medical procedures. 

These are two new policies instated at AdventHealth Daytona Beach, AdventHealth Palm Coast and planned for Halifax Health hospitals in light of the threat of spreading COVID-19. AdventHealth Daytona Beach and Palm Coast both have one confirmed case of COVID-19, based on the March 23 daily report by the Florida Department of Health; Halifax Health doctors reported one case during a Volusia County press conference on Tuesday, March 24.

AdventHealth began restricting patient visitation across Central Florida on Monday, March 23, only permitting exceptions for underaged and obstetric patients, as well as patients with extenuating circumstances such as end-of-life. Halifax Health will begin similar restrictions starting Wednesday. 

Due to an executive order issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis on March 20, all hospitals and doctor's offices are prohibited from providing "any medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedure or surgery." 

For AdventHealth, that frees up the personal protective equipment that would have been used in those surgeries (such as masks and shields), and renders them available for doctors and nurses to use when examining a possible case of COVID-19, said AdventHealth Palm Coast CEO Dr. Ron Jimenez.

At this time, AdventHealth is isolating anyone who could potentially be infected with coronavirus. That's one of the reasons behind restricting visitors.

“Obviously, the hospital is a high-risk place, so we don’t want to expose a visitor to a potentially infectious patient, and we obviously don’t want the opposite to happen, where a potentially-infected visitor visits a patient that might not otherwise be infected,"  Jimenez said.

In a statement, John Gunthrie, vice president of Communications for Halifax Health, said his hospital is opening an alternate treatment area to screen patients with respiratory symptoms. 

"It is our objective to not have patients with respiratory symptoms enter the hospital unless it is medically necessary,"  Guthrie said.

If you test positive for COVID-19 after being tested in a facility in the community, don't come to the hospital. Jimenez said those patients should isolate themselves in their home. 

With concerns over mask shortages rising nationwide, Jimenez said AdventHealth is "well-stocked" across the company. 

"But there’s always concern that if supply doesn’t keep up with demand, then there could be a shortage in the future," he said. "So we’re trying to think ahead with regard to being prepared for any potential issue that hits us with regard to running out of equipment.”

AdventHealth has also recently launched an information line for citizens, 877-VIRUSHQ, which receives an average of 800 calls a day, said Lauren Dye, director of marketing and network development at AdventHealth Palm Coast. To limit exposure to hospital staff and volunteers, she said AdventHealth is looking to help nonpatient care staff perform work remotely. It has also closed areas like the hospital gift shops.

Jimenez added that hospital staff is practicing social distancing and encouraged residents to do the same. He said people in the community should keep washing their hands and assume everyone they encounter has COVID-19 and act accordingly. 

“If everyone did that, the virus would end up dwindling out relatively quickly," Jimenez said. "But since we’re not all doing that, we’re going to continue to have this prolonged release of this virus in communities across the United States.”

This story was updated at 5:57 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, to include one new case at Halifax Health. 

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