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Tampa Bay hospitals adjust rules for visitors due to coronavirus

Tampa Bay hospitals have imposed new limitations on who can visit in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus and protect patients and healthcare workers.

"With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increasing in Florida and across the country, we are further limiting access to our hospitals to help ensure that our patients, caregivers and visitors are safe," said Dr. Ravi Chari, president of HCA Healthcare West Florida in a statement.

In HCA hospitals like Largo Medical Center or Medical Center in Trinity, most patients cannot receive visits. There are exceptions for patients in labor and delivery, the neonatal intensive care unit, behavioral health departments and in end-of-life situations, according to a press release.

These new rules will take effect at HCA hospitals in the region on Friday. It does not affect attorneys or government officials on duty who may need to see a patient.

In emergency rooms, only one visitor per patient is allowed, according to the statement. But once a patient is admitted to the hospital, that visitor must leave.

For outpatient procedures at HCA hospitals, patients can still have one visitor at a time. That person must remain in a designated waiting area.

All visitors under the age of 18 will not be allowed unless they are parents of a hospitalized child.

And all the guests on the hospital campus will still be screened for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. They should answer questions about whether they are experiencing symptoms such as fever or shortness of breath, and whether they have traveled out of the country in the past 14 days. Anyone who answers yes to these questions will not be admitted to the hospital.

Hospital operators are encouraging patients and their families to use their phones or apps like Skype and FaceTime to connect virtually for now.

At Tampa General Hospital, adult patients may have an approved visitor. Only parents of pediatric patients may enter the hospital. And for patients giving birth, their partner and a certified birth attendant, such as a doula, may be present for delivery. The hospital has suspended all other visits at this time.

All visitors to Tampa General must provide photo identification to enter the hospital.

"Because our hospital handles traumatic emergencies and injuries every day, exceptions will be allowed in certain cases," said a press release.

BayCare hospitals limit visitors to the hours of 11 a.m. at 7 p.m., according to their website. Minors under the age of 18 will not be allowed on campus. All adult visitors will be evaluated for COVID-19.

Visitors cannot visit BayCare's residential facilities for 30 days, as part of the Florida Department of Emergency Management's March 15 emergency order. This applies to Morton Plant North Bay Mitchell Rehabilitation Center and BayCare residential behavioral facilities.

Bayfront Health in St. Petersburg is following the guidelines of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. USA To evaluate all hospital visitors, said marketing director David Larrick.


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