Sarasota 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. We will continue to monitor the latest developments and update procedures and policies as necessary.
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: mask use, hand hygiene, physical distancing and staying home when you're sick.
Wearing a face covering — ideally a mask — is recommended when you may come in close contact (6 feet or less) with someone from outside your household, especially for a prolonged period (10-15 minutes or more) and especially indoors.
Click here for the latest COVID-19 news releases from Sarasota Memorial.
For the latest coronavirus-related information and blogs from SMH experts, click here.
Visitation Restrictions Resume
Sarasota Memorial Hospital has resumed temporary visitation restrictions. We have taken this proactive approach to reduce exposure risks by significantly reducing the number of people in the facility. The temporary changes are part of the health system’s ongoing effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard the health of patients, families, staff and the community.
Loved ones are encouraged to connect with patients via calls, texts and video calling apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp.
Limited Exceptions: No visitors will be allowed, except in special instances, such as end of life situations and for birth support. (See below.)
Any visitors allowed under these guidelines must be 18 or older, must undergo a screening and temperature check upon entry, and must wear a mask in the hospital. Approved visitors must remain inside the patient’s room or designated waiting area for the duration of their visit. Visitors who refuse to wear a face mask in the hospital will be asked to leave.
Allowed exceptions to visitor restrictions include:
- Certain extraordinary circumstances, such as end-of-life care; department director’s approval is required.
- Emergency Care Center (ER) patients can each have 1 support person, who may wait in the hospital lobby (first floor access only). If a patient requires assistance to receive treatment (such as a stroke patient who cannot speak), then an essential caregiver may be allowed to accompany the patient into the ER or other patient care area, as necessary.
- Labor & Delivery / Mother-Baby Unit patients may each have 1 support person, and additionally, may have a certified doula or licensed community midwife, in the event the patient is transferred to SMH for care. No other visitors are allowed in Labor-Delivery or Mother-Baby units. Expectant parents with questions about how this will impact their birth experience may call 941-313-0943 to speak with a clinical nursing leader.
- Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients may have two designated visitors, but only one may visit per day.
- Pediatrics patients may have 1 parent or support person (1 visitor total).
- Patients in surgical, procedural and testing areas may each have 1 support person, who must remain in the designated waiting area.
Vendors will not be allowed to enter the hospital without approval from the department with which they are working.
Note — Full visitor restriction remains in effect for patients with COVID-19, suspected or confirmed; patients at Bayside Center for Behavioral Health; and patients at Sarasota Memorial Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
SMH has instituted a mandatory, universal mask-wearing policy for all staff, providers, patients (over age 2) and visitors in its facilities.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using cloth masks or cloth face coverings in public places, especially where physical distancing (6 feet) may not be possible at all times. Face masks or coverings are not recommended for children younger than 2.
Surgery at Sarasota Memorial
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.)
COVID-19 Testing & Clinical Trials
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.
Plasma Donations and Clinical Trials: 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
Do Not Delay Care
Is it safe to receive care at SMH, Urgent Care Centers and Outpatient facilities?
Yes! At Sarasota Memorial Hospital, our ER, our Urgent Care Centers and all of our other outpatient facilities, we have many infection control and management measures in place to keep patients and staff safe. These include new screening and intake processes to help ensure patient and staff safety. 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 receive care at a First Physicians Group office?
Yes! While in-person office visits for illness or injury can be scheduled as needed, many First Physicians Group (FPG) outpatient-care practices also 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.
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).
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, including wearing a face covering in public places and where physical-distancing isn't possible, and practicing hand hygeine and physical distancing.
For more tips, check out the CDC’s Prevention & Treatment info and its Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings.
* Page last updated July 3, 2020. COVID-19 information is continually evolving. For the most up-to-date info, also visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.