More in this section:

COVID-19 FAQ and Prevention TipsSarasota Memorial & COVID-19

Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) continues to work with public health officials at the local, state and national levels to help keep our staff, patients and community safe. The best thing we can do as a community is to stay informed and take common-sense precautions to guard against this and other viruses. 

Click here for the latest COVID-19 news from Sarasota Memorial.

For the latest coronavirus-related information and blogs from SMH experts, click here.

Responding to a Global Pandemic

As the region’s largest hospital and employer, SMH is doing all we can to keep our patients and community safe and healthy during this global coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to monitor the latest developments and update procedures and policies as necessary.

COVID-19 Resources

 

Sarasota County COVID-19 Call Center
941-861-2883 

SMH Coronavirus Hotline
941-917-8799 

CDC's Cloth Mask How-to & FAQ for Use

Face Mask Use & Re-Use How-to, SMH Video

Florida Dept. of Health Hotline
866-779-6121

CDC Information

  • Limited Visitation Allowed  Sarasota Memorial has begun a phased easing of visitation restrictions to some areas of the hospital. Upon entry, all visitors must answer screening questions and will have their temperature checked. Visitors also must be 18 or older and must wear a mask, in accordance with SMH’s current masking policy. 
     
    • Hospital inpatients may have 1 visitor per day for a 1-hour visit between the hours of 1 pm and 6pm. Loved ones are also encouraged to connect with patients via video calling apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp.
    • Critical Care patients may have 1 visitor per day for a 30-minute visit between the hours of 1 pm and 6pm.
    • Emergency Care Center (ER) patients will be allowed to have 1 visitor, who may accompany the patient to the treatment room or wait in the hospital’s main lobby.
    • Parents visiting Pediatrics or Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients may now visit at the same time.
    • Labor & Delivery patients may have 1 support person, as well as a doula and/or community certified midwife, in the event the patient is transferred to SMH for care. Expectant parents with questions about how this will impact their birth experience may call 941-313-0943 to speak with a clinical nursing leader. (Click here for a Q&A on pregnancy, birth and COVID-19.)
    • Patients in surgical, procedural and testing areas may each have 1 support person, whose access will be limited to hospital's first floor.

    Exceptions to this visitor policy may be made in certain extraordinary circumstances, including end-of-life situations.

    Note — Visitor restrictions will remain in effect for patients suspected of having COVID-19; those who have tested COVID-19 positive; patients at Bayside Center for Behavioral Health; and patients at Sarasota Memorial Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Rand Boulevard.

  • Universal Masking Policy — SMH has instituted a universal mask-wearing policy for staff, providers, patients (over age 2) and visitors. 

  • Elective Surgeries — Sarasota Memorial has resumed elective surgeries. To ensure the safety of patients and staff, we have put in place a number of protocols, including expanded testing of patients for COVID-19. Each surgery patient may have one support person, whose access is limited to the hospital's first floor. Patients who had an elective procedure postponed or who have other questions should contact their physician for information. (Click here for a brief list of the many safeguards SMH has in place to ensure it's safer than ever to receive care at the hospital's facilities.) 

  • Plasma Donations and Clinical Trial — Sarasota Memorial is partnering with SunCoast Blood Centers in a local trial using convalescent plasma transfusions to treat critical cases of COVID-19 infections. (Click here to learn more.) We encourage those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and fully recovered to contact SunCoast about making an appointment to make a plasma donation. Call 941-993-8119 or email covid19@suncoastblood.org. Potential donors must: have a prior diagnosis of COVID-19 documented by a laboratory test or doctor’s note; must be symptom free for 14 to 28 days; and meet current blood donation protocols.

  • Testing for COVID-19 — At Sarasota Memorial Hospital, testing priority is given to hospitalized patients, as well as people with symptoms and known exposure to the virus through travel or contact with other people infected. Community COVID-19 testing is now available at various drive-thru testing sites operated by the Sarasota Department of Health and through partnerships with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida National Guard, and Sarasota and Manatee counties. 

    Some local physician offices also can help arrange testing through third-party laboratories. Talk with your doctor or prescribing physician about where you can go to get tested. If you do not have a doctor, reach out to the Sarasota County call center at 941-861-2883.

  • Cancellations & Closures — Sarasota Memorial also has canceled or postponed most public events, classes and group meetings across all Sarasota Memorial locations (online alternatives are offered when possible).

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I still receive care at SMH?

TruD cleans SMH patient roomYes! At Sarasota Memorial Hospital, our ER and all of our outpatient facilities, we have many infection control and management measures in place to keep patients and staff safe. Unless your care provider contacts you directly to reschedule an appointment, please plan to keep all existing appointments at Sarasota Memorial outpatient facilities. Our top priority is safely providing high-quality care for our patients. 

Is it safe to go to an Urgent Care or other outpatient care center?

Yes. In addition to strict recommended infection control procedures, our outpatient, imaging and Urgent Care Centers (UCCs) have implemented new screening and intake processes to help ensure patient and staff safety. Outpatient rehab patients who are symptomatic or who have had contact with a COVID-19 patient are asked to reschedule outpatient rehab appointments.

Should I still receive care at a First Physicians Group Office?

Yes! While in-person office visits for illness or injury can be scheduled as needed, First Physicians Group (FPG) outpatient-care practices are using telemedicine (virtual visits) to treat patients who can be safely "seen" without an in-person evaluation. Strict infection prevention measures are being followed to ensure the offices can safely continue to care for patients. Patients whose conditions require in-person visits are screened, and both patient and staff must wear masks.

Should I wear a face covering or surgical mask in public, if I don't have symptoms?

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using cloth masks or cloth face coverings when going out and about, especially in locations where community spread of COVID-19 is high. Face masks or coverings are not recommended for children younger than 2. {Click here for the CDC's suggestions for making cloth masks/face coverings, as well as its FAQ on using and caring for cloth masks/face coverings.}

Think You Have COVID-19?

Patients with confirmed COVID-19 have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath

  • If you have mild symptoms (fever of 100 or above, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, sore throat, chills, muscle pain, headache, new loss of taste or smell, extreme fatigue, diarrhea), call your healthcare provider or the Sarasota County COVID-19 Call Center (941-861-2883) as soon as possible, and before seeking care. Review your signs, symptoms and travel history thoroughly with them. 

  • If you have severe symptoms, or you have underlying conditions, such as a weakened immune system or chronic respiratory disease, call your family physician or the Sarasota County COVID-19 Call Center (941-861-2883) for guidance on how to seek care without exposing others. 

  • Call ahead before you visit any care center and let them know that you think you may have COVID-19.

  • If you have had close contact (within 6 ft.) with someone confirmed to have COVID-19 and have symptoms, call your doctor right away. If you do not have a care provider, call the Sarasota County COVID-19 Call Center (941-861-2883). The CDC advises people who have no symptoms but believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after their last potential exposure.

For more information, contact the Sarasota County COVID-19 Call Center (941-861-2883) or the Florida Department of Health hotline at 866-779-6121 (24 hours a day).

Prevention Steps

How can I protect myself and others from COVID-19 infection?

The best way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay informed and to use the same common-sense precautions you take to guard against other illnesses. Click here to view the EPA's recently released a list of cleaning products reccomended for use against COVID-19. 

For more tips, check out the CDC’s Prevention & Treatment info and its Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings.


* Page last updated June 5, 2020. Some information is based on CDC updates, which are rapidly evolving. For the most up to date info, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.