SARASOTA, Fla. – As the COVID-19 health crisis continues to escalate rapidly and the disease becomes widespread, Sarasota Memorial Hospital is adapting its masking guidelines to care for the increasing number of patients, while continuing to protect all of our employees and the community. Beginning today, SMH is expanding its masking policy for all staff and providers who work in clinical areas or who come into contact with patients in public or other areas of the hospital.
All staff and providers that have patient contact will now be provided a surgical mask when they arrive for work to check in at temperature screening stations at SMH entrances. All staff providing care for suspected or known COVID patients will wear N-95 masks and will use the highest level of personal protective equipment (PPE) when performing aerosol generating procedures. (Procedures that generate tiny droplets from the patient’s nose or mouth into the air.) In addition, masks will be available, but optional for staff in non-clinical areas that cannot consistently maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet. Staff may bring their own standard PPE to wear to work. Homemade PPE donations are being collected, should they be required in the future.
The expanded masking policy was announced as cases of positive patients continue to rise at the hospital and in the community. Two more positive patients died at SMH since yesterday’s update.
“While we continue to learn more about the virus, SMH remains committed to doing everything we can to protect our staff and the entire community,” said Sarasota Memorial CEO David Verinder. “It cannot be overstated that we owe a great deal of gratitude to the health care providers on the front lines of this crisis. They are tired, both emotionally and physically, but they come to work day after day committed to providing the best care for our patients.”
SMH has been working around the clock with vendors, government officials and community and business partners to obtain supplies, including thousands of surgical/procedural masks, N-95 masks, face shields and other PPE. Thanks to everyone’s efforts and the generosity of those who have donated needed items, we have been able to replenish some of our protective gear, at least for the short-term. Securing additional PPE remains a top priority for SMH, and the hospital continues to collect community donations of homemade masks and medical supplies.
Click here for the daily update on patients with COVID-19 at SMH. For the latest county-by-county update on positive cases, visit the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) website.
Sarasota County Coronavirus Call Center: 941-861-2883 | COVID-19 Info: smh.com/covid19 | SMH Coronavirus Hotline: 941-917-8799