Elective surgeries resume in Suncoast hospitals

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 12:04 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Health experts say that although we are still seeing cases and deaths, the pandemic is starting to level out here on the Suncoast. The same is happening inside of our hospitals.

It has been a roller coaster for Suncoast hospitals these last few months, but because of these encouraging trends of lower hospitalizations numbers. Some facilities like Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) have decided to resume elective surgeries once again, and so is Manatee Memorial Hospital (MMH).

“We didn’t expect the last wave after Memorial Day and after 4th of July,” MMH CEO, Kevin Diallo, said. “We really had a spike in mid-July, but it seems like August will be more controllable.”

Diallo says this is second time since March that hospitals have made the decision to open up their beds for non-COVID patients.

Hospital leaders tell ABC7 that the restriction was originally put in place so that facilities had enough hospital beds to keep up with the demand, and conserve medical supplies, especially personal-protective equipment (PPE).

They say it was also put in place to limit exposing other patients to possible infection. Now, hospitals believe they can do both.

“We had to put them off in an abundance of caution, so that we could have capacity and reserve resources such as PPE for our covid patients,” Dr. Michael Schandorf-Larty, Chief Medical Officer, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, said. “However, we can’t do that for too long. They also needed to be taken care of which is why we made the decision to go back to allowing elective surgeries because our staffing and our PPE are in good supply.”

SMH, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and MMH have begun optional surgeries once again, while still monitoring the situation daily.

“I believe that’s going to be the plan going forward for the next several months, if not for the remainder of the year,” Diallo said. “I can see us having spikes, and having to cut back again, but I can also see us leveling out more and being open again. We still don’t have visitors which is a big part of our patients and their healing process inside the hospital.”

Medical experts say in order to hopefully allow visitors back in the near future. All hospitals in Sarasota and Manatee Counties have implementing strict guidelines that will help continue containing the spread.

They say extreme cleaning and disinfecting will be done daily, and everyone entering the facilities will be screened with their temperature taken.

“It looks like this is probably the tale end of the second wave, and hopefully we wont have any further problems,” Schandorf-Larty said. “However, this all depends on if people continue following the proper guidance from our experts and epidemiologists.”

Those guidelines are, of course, wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands frequently.

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