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, and click here for our daily coronavirus patient update.
For the latest coronavirus-related information and blogs from SMH experts, click here.
Limited Visitation Policy & Visitor Requirements
Based on current COVID-19 indicators, we have determined that SMH can safely ease some restrictions on hospital visitors. The following are our updated visitor requirements and visitation policy for Sarasota Memorial Hospital as of Monday, Sept. 28.
Note that all visitors must be 18 years or older and must wear a mask; upon entry, they must answer COVID-19 screening questions and will have their temperature checked.
Loved ones who cannot visit are encouraged to connect with patients via calls, texts and video calling apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp.
- Hospital inpatients may have 1 visitor per day for a 1-hour visit between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- Critical Care patients may have 1 visitor per day for a 30-minute visit between 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- Pediatrics and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients may have 2 parents/designated caregivers.
- Labor & Delivery patients may have 1 support person. In the event a mother is transferred to SMH, a certified doula or community midwife also will be permitted.
- Mother-Baby patients may have 1 support person.
- Emergency Care Center (ER) patients are allowed to have 1 visitor, who may accompany the patient to the emergency care treatment room or may wait in the hospital’s main lobby and use a cell phone to communicate with the patient.
- Patients in surgical, procedural and testing areas may each have 1 support person. The support person must remain on the first floor or in the designated waiting area.
- Visitors are NOT permitted for patients with COVID-19, suspected or confirmed.
- Vendor visits require advance hospital approval.
Exceptions to this visitor policy may be made in certain extraordinary circumstances, including end-of-life situations.
- Visitors must be age 18 or older.
- Visitors must undergo a screening and temperature check upon entry.
- Visitors are required to wear a mask that covers nose and mouth at all times.
- Visitors must stay in the patient’s room for the duration of their visit.
Note — Visitation is currently not permitted at the Bayside Center for Behavioral Health or the 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.
COVID-19 Testing at SMH
Sarasota Memorial Hospital is not a community test site for COVID-19. Currently, SMH provides COVID-19 testing for admitted patients and has expanded pre-procedural COVID-19 testing.
For people who do not have symptoms, or have mild to moderate symptoms that do not require hospitalization, free community COVID-19 testing sites are available at various locations through the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). Some local physician offices also can help arrange testing for a fee 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 or have questions about the FDOH testing sites, call the Sarasota County coronavirus call center at 941-861-2883.
COVID-19 Treatment Clinical Trials & Plasma Donations
Regeneron REGN-COV2 Antibody Cocktail: SMH is 1 of 3 hospitals in Florida participating in Phase 2/3 of a multi-national clinical trial testing Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ REGN-COV2, a new dual-action antibody cocktail to treat COVID-19.
We are now enrolling both hospitalized patients with the novel coronavirus and those who have COVID-19 but aren’t sick enough to be hospitalized. Enrollment is time-sensitive. To participate, patients must have tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 2 days and must have experienced at least 1 symptom within the past 5 days. Click here for more information on the clinical trial. For study specifics and eligibility questions, please call the SMH Clinical Research Center at 941-917-2225 (8am-3pm, Monday-Friday).
Convalescent Plasma: Sarasota Memorial is partnering with SunCoast Blood Centers in a local trial using convalescent plasma transfusions to treat critical cases of COVID-19 infections. 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.
COVID-19 Prevention Clinical Trial
Regeneron COVID-19 Prevention Study: Sarasota Memorial Hospital is now enrolling healthy adults in a clinical trial testing whether Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ REGN-COV2 experimental antibody cocktail can prevent infection by the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This is a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial. Enrollment is time-sensitive. To qualify, participants must have no symptoms and must have been in close contact (typically residing in the same household) with an infected person in a 96-hour window prior to receiving the REGN-CoV-2 antibody treatment or placebo. For more information and eligibility questions, please call the SMH Clinical Research Center at 941-917-2225 (8am-3pm, Monday-Friday).
COVID-19 Survivors Support Group
Sarasota Memorial invites patients, staff and community members who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are currently recovering to join a free, weekly online COVID Survivors Support Group. Facilitated by an SMH licensed therapist, the group will allow individuals to connect, encourage, and share challenges and experiences with one another. The interactive online sessions will be held from 2 to 3:30 pm Thursdays. To register or for more information, call 941-917-2660.
Elective Surgery Status
Sarasota Memorial continues to monitor the spread of the coronavirus and is prepared to take proactive measures when necessary to ensure we continue to deliver safe, quality care during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, we have the staff, supplies and space in our hospital and ICU to continue performing elective and non-emergency surgeries.
If you have questions about an upcoming elective surgery at SMH or have other related questions, please contact your physician.
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 Guideline for Hand Hygiene in Health-Care Settings.
* Page last updated Sept. 28, 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.