(NOTE: These answers are current as of July 17, 2020. We will update this blog as needed and also post additional blogs on the latest questions from our community as they arise.)
As COVID-19 continues to affect lives across Southwest Florida and the rest of the country, Lee Health wanted to share some frequently asked questions from our community.
As always, Lee Health’s goal is to keep our community safe, informed and empowered – especially in these difficult times.
Our resident public health awareness experts — Dr. Alex Daneshmand, Chief Quality and Patient Safety Officer, and Dr. Stephanie Stovall, an infectious disease expert — contributed to these answers along Dr. Larry Antonucci, Lee Health President & CEO.
A: Anyone with symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea, sore throat or any symptoms out of ordinary should be tested for COVID-19.
A: Yes, Telehealth is an excellent option for many patients. Since the pandemic, approximately 800 people participate in telehealth every day. This is both convenient and the best possible way to avoid spreading illness. Lee TeleHealth physicians and providers are trained on proper COVID-19 protocols. If they think you require testing, they will walk you through your next steps.
However, not everything can be treated through a video visit. We want our patients to know we are here for them if they need to be seen in person. We are taking every precaution to prioritize the safety of our patients and colleagues.
A: Lee Health uses a strict policy to ensure your protection by asking patients to arrive at every facility wearing a laundered cloth mask or paper mask. Patients will not be allowed into facilities without a mask.
We have employees stationed at every entrance who will ask screening questions to patients so we can monitor their visit and properly route them to the correct location. These screening questions are in accordance with new CDC guidelines.
In addition, our staff cleans and disinfects throughout the day, our staff wears masks and other protective equipment, and we have rearranged waiting rooms and rules to follow social distancing guidelines.
A: Please see our updated hospital visitation policy here.
A: YES. One incredibly important thing to remember: Many parents have been delaying bringing their children to the emergency room because they are afraid of COVID-19 and also concerned that children cannot have parents or family members with them.
This is simply NOT the case.
At Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, children will be allowed two designated visitors upon admission who can be with the patient, in their room, at all times. This also includes the Sedation, Outpatient Pediatric Oncology and the Pediatric Perianesthesia areas.
ER visits for both children AND adults should not be delayed. Heart attack, stroke, trouble breathing, severe bleeding, traumatic injuries, high fever, acute pain (such as appendicitis, broken bones, seizures — time is critical in these situations, and all of our emergency rooms are open 24/7, safe and ready to help.
A: Yes, we are taking every precaution to ensure your safety.
Early on in this pandemic, we prepared a plan in case we had to deal with a surge of patients. We are now activating that plan to make sure we are using our beds in an optimal manner to care for our community.
As part of this surge plan, we are again reducing elective surgeries based our average daily census of staffed beds. Most elective surgeries are necessary procedures to improve the quality of life of our patients, and we are thankful for the understanding of those whose procedures may be delayed. This is a necessary action we must take to help keep our hospitals from being overrun and for the overall well-being of our community.
A: Your safety is our top priority, so we have ensured all of our facilities uphold the highest protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A: We are keeping up with the latest in treatment options to care for our patients including the investigational antiviral drug Remdesivir. While the benefits of the drug are not fully known, there is evidence that it can help shorten the length of a patient’s illness. Currently, our supply of Remdesivir, which is administered through an IV, is limited to patients in the hospital. There also are specific criteria for use outlined in the U.S. Food & Drug Administration-issued Emergency Use Authorization.
Additionally, we also are continuing the use of plasma to treat patients with COVID-19 through the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Study. Anyone who previously tested positive, and whose symptoms resolved and later tested negative is welcome to donate blood.
If you are interested in donating blood, call 239-343-2332 or email COVID.plasma@LeeHealth.org.
It is important to note that being admitted to Lee Health with COVID-19 does not guarantee a patient will qualify for this trial. Participation in the study is based on the protocol’s preset exclusion and inclusion criteria and the availability of an appropriate blood-type matched unit of convalescent plasma.
Check back soon for part two of our questions and answers on COVID-19.