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Ormond Beach Observer Thursday, Apr. 30, 2020 3 months ago

AdventHealth will test all patients and staff; inpatients to be allowed one visitor

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Hospital officials said they believe it is a safe time to reopen.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

With phase 1 of the governor's plan to reopen Florida starting on Monday, May 4, AdventHealth has announced the measures it will take to keep its staff, patients and visitors safe moving forward. 

These include COVID-19 testing for all health care workers and patients in the hospital as well as ensuring everyone is wearing a mask at all times, said Daryl Tol, president and CEO of AdventHealth's Central Florida Division during a virtual press conference on Thursday, April 30. AdventHealth will also allow patients to have one visitor with them and staff will be practicing and encouraging social distancing through wall signs and chair covers, a measure which will extend to doctors' offices. 

Tol said the hospital believes it is a safe time to reopen and, keeping with the governor's theme of facts versus fear in Wednesday's announcement, Tol said action is the best antidote to fear.

“We weren’t wrong as a society saying this could be really bad," Tol said. "It has been really bad in some places, but the actions of our leaders and the actions you’ve taken have made it better.”

Other safety measures that AdventHealth will implement include deep cleanings in the hospital and encouraging the use of telehealth services. People with doctor's appointments in outpatient facilities may also be able to check-in online and wait in their vehicles until their room is available, Tol said. 

Dr. Neil Finkler, chief medical officer of acute care services, said AdventHealth has tested over 51,000 people for COVID-19. The reason for testing all staff and patients is to identify possible asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, which are occurring in 1%-2% of the population. 

As long as that percentage of asymptomatic carriers remains, wearing masks will still be necessary. Additionally, should an asymptomatic patient test positive for COVID-19, the hospital will be able to cohort them in a unit prepared to adequately meet their needs, Finkler said.

Another reason for testing is that, now that the governor is allowing elective surgeries to resume, several studies have shown patients with COVID-19 have an increased mortality rate post-procedure of 20%-40%. 

“I think that we would all agree that is absolutely unacceptable and nowhere near what that mortality should be," Finkler said. "So this is really for the safety of our patients as well as for the safety of our staff."

Regarding hospital revenue, Tol said that AdventHealth is expecting a significant loss due to the fact there were no layoffs or furloughs. All in all, Tol said it was the right decision. He thanked the community for its support in the last few weeks.

“The outpouring of support has been incredible," he said. "It’s something our whole team gets emotional about.”

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