In response to rising COVID-19 infections across West Central Florida, BayCare on Tuesday will tighten its temporary visitation rules at its 14 acute care hospitals to protect patients, team members, physicians, and the public.
BayCare is also pausing all elective procedures at its six hospitals in Hillsborough County to ensure capacity for the community’s acute health care needs. Both changes take effect Tuesday, Aug. 3.
“No one takes any pleasure in having to limit visits from patients’ loved ones or telling someone they will need to wait for their procedure,” said BayCare Chief Operating Officer Glenn Waters. “But our first priority has to be to keep our facilities as safe as possible for all our patients and caregivers so patients can recover and return home as soon as possible.”
Starting Tuesday, Baycare’s six hospitals in Hillsborough County will pause all elective procedures due to a growing patient census in their hospitals and to ensure they have capacity to serve urgent and emergent community needs.
The hospitals impacted are: St. Joseph’s, St. Joseph’s Children’s and St. Joseph’s Women’s in Tampa; St. Joseph’s North in Lutz; St. Joseph’s South in Riverview; and South Florida Baptist in Plant City.
In Polk County, Winter Haven and Winter Haven Women’s hospitals and Bartow Medical Center are continuing to pause elective procedures that require an overnight stay in an inpatient bed.
No changes in elective procedure scheduling are anticipated at this time for BayCare’s hospitals in Pinellas and Pasco counties, which includes Morton Plant in Clearwater, Mease Countryside, Mease Dunedin, St. Anthony’s in St. Petersburg, and Morton Plant North Bay in New Port Richey.
“We are shifting our resources as the community’s needs require. Our priority will always be patient safety and being sure we are available to serve our communities’ acute health needs,” Waters said.
Elective procedures are those that can be delayed without danger to the patient. Urgent and emergent procedures will continue.
BayCare will determine at a later date when to start rescheduling appointments.
BayCare hospital and surgery centers began notifying providers of the change on Monday. The health care system has a clinical review process to consider requests by patients or doctors who receive a cancellation notice but believe the procedure is medically necessary and should proceed.
Starting Tuesday, patients will be allowed one adult visitor per day during the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. All visitors must wear masks, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, and are to limit their movements in the hospitals to travel to and from the patient’s room. Previously, temporary visitation rules had allowed patients to have multiple adult visitors a day, but only one at a time.
Some areas of our hospitals, such as labor and delivery, Moms and newborns, pediatrics, and NICU, continue to have extended guidelines.
Visitation remains closed for COVID-19 positive, COVID-19 rule-out, and Behavioral Health patients.
Emergency room patients may have one visitor wait with them, as socially-distancing capacity allows. But if emergency waiting rooms become too crowded, visitors will be asked to wait in their vehicle until their patient is placed in a treatment room.
Exceptions to the Visitation Policy may also be made to provide reasonable accommodation to patients with disabilities or special needs and to comply with applicable laws.
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