With 2 additional coronavirus cases, Sarasota Memorial Hospital bans visitors

COVID-19: What older adults need to know about the outbreak and staying healthy

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Starting at 6pm Friday, March 20, Sarasota Memorial Hospital is banning visitors expect in special circumstances, at the same time announcing they have two additional coronavirus patients in their car.

The new coronavirus patients tested positive late Thursday. One patient is in their 60s and the other is in their 70s. Sarasota Memorial says they have had a total of six patients, but three have been safely discharged.

Sarasota County currently has eight cases, while Manatee County has nine. Latest numbers here.

We asked the hospital if that means the patients have fully recovered, but the spokesperson said they cannot release further details, adding, “We are working in concert with the health department. When we discharge patients, the health department takes over public monitoring and any additional testing and quarantine requirements.”

Sarasota Memorial says all coronavirus patients “have been in isolation since their admission, cared for by doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists trained in appropriate infection prevention and control measures.”

As for the visitor ban, Sarasota Memorial says this applies to the hospital as well as SMH Bayside Center for Behavioral Health; SMH Rehab Pavilion / Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit; and SMH Nursing & Rehab Center on Rand Boulevard. The hospital encourages families to stay connected with patients through phone calls, Facebook, FaceTime, WhatsApp or other video calling apps.

The hospital did not give the special circumstances in which visitors would be allowed.

Earlier this week, Manatee Memorial Hospital also banned visitors, saying no visitors allowed into inpatient areas except for:

  • Labor and Delivery: limitation of one support person who may stay over night
  • Mom and Baby/Post-partum: one support person who may stay over night (Reminder for OB patient’s families: when picking up mothers and/or newborns, please secure someone to watch older children, since they are not able to visit the hospital.)
  • NICU: one support person who may stay over night
  • Emergency Department: Patients are limited to one visitor who can stay in the Emergency Department but may not accompany the patient once taken to the inpatient unit who are subject to screening upon arrival at the hospital. If the visitor leaves the Emergency Department, they may not return.
  • Compassionate care/end-of-life situations. In those cases, visitors will be limited to a specific room only.

Visitors who fall into one of the above exceptions will be screened when they arrive at Manatee Memorial Hospital and be required to wash their hands and/or use hand-sanitizing gel when coming into the hospital and when entering and exiting a patient’s room.

Both Blake Medical Center and Doctors Hospital of Sarasota are also banning visitors and exceptions must be approved by the hospital administrator. Their criteria is the same with some exceptions that can be made for:

  • end-of-life situations
  • labor and delivery, post-partum, and the NICU
    • one visitor is allowed and may stay overnight
  • behavioral health units
    • a patient's attorney of record, a state or federal representative on official duty, and end-of-life situation visitors are allowed in accordance with State of Florida Emergency Order No. 20-52.
  • One visitor is allowed per patient in the ER. Once a patient is admitted to the hospital, the visitor must leave as visitors are not allowed in inpatient areas.
  • One visitor is allowed per patient who is having an outpatient surgery or other outpatient procedure requiring sedation. Visitor must remain in the designated waiting area. If the patient is admitted as an inpatient, the visitor must leave as visitors are not allowed in inpatient areas.
  • Anyone under the age of 18 will not be considered for visitation unless they are the parent of a hospitalized child.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced on Saturday a 30-day ban on visits to nursing homes as he acknowledged that the virus is spreading through some communities. The visitation ban applies to assisted living facilities and adult group homes, along with nursing homes. DeSantis said it would be lifted for what he called “compassionate” cases.

In-person visitation to state prisons was suspended last week at all facilities until April 5, corrections officials announced late Wednesday last week.

“This decision has been made in close consultation with our partners at the Florida Department of Health and with correctional best practices being reviewed nationwide. We look forward to resuming normal visitation as soon as possible,” agency officials said in a prepared statement.

Inmates will have “access to their loved ones through mail, phone calls and video visitations,” officials said.

Attorneys, however, will still be allowed to visit inmates in person, corrections department spokeswoman Michelle Glady told The News Service of Florida.

And Friday, the Department of Juvenile Justice suspended visitation until April 15th at all state-operated juvenile detention centers and juvenile residential commitment programs.

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