The Governor’s office said the state can re-open restaurants and retail locations up to 25 percent of capacity on Monday. At a press conference Thursday, AdventHealth officials said a “safe, smart, step-by-step re-opening of Florida is a prudent step right now, and that AdventHealth is unveiling changes and innovative services that will continue to safeguard patients, visitors, team members and the greater community as the health care system begins to reopen many of its services.
“We believe it is a safe time to re-open with the steps and actions the governor has laid out, which is a prudent method which minimizes the spread of COVID-19,” said AdventHealth Central Florida CEO Daryl Tol. “I’m grateful to the governor for characterizing this safe, smart, step-by-step re-opening of Florida. This could have been worse without the prudent action by of the governor, local leaders and the people who took it seriously, sheltered in place and made this a community action. We weren’t wrong when we said this could be really bad, but the actions taken have made it better.”
He said preparation and proper science are guiding action, the situation will be watched very closely, and that AdventHealth has the equipment and capacity in case a new surge comes.
As a community member where people will do business, be it health business, AdventHealth will be testing its team and all patients. Negative and positive cases will not share space. Everyone within its walls – staff, patients, visitors (one per patient) – will wear a mask and be temperature checked, and check-in and out via a mobile app is now available.
Dr. Scott Brady said an in-house study showed the hospital’s peak was April 16, followed by a steady and slow decline of cases.
“Many models didn’t have the ability to calculate what we’d do if we social distanced like they did,” he said. “We’re going to need to continue taking the safety measures as we re-open.”
Neil Finkler, Chief Medical Officer for Acute Care Services at AdventHealth, said people adhering to social distancing and stay-at-home edicts made what can happen Monday possible.
“We’re at a point where the surge was not as bad as predicted. Social distancing and the stay and home order, as difficult and as much of a sacrifice as that was, it got us to the point where we can now talk about re-opening,” he said.
“The six-foot distance and masking will go forward. We think 1 to 2 percent of the population walks around asymptomatic and COVID positive, as long as that exists with asymptomatic carriers of this, we need the masks until proven otherwise.”
The continued expansion of testing is also critical.
“We think it’s very important in order to reduce the likelihood of a second spike,” Finkler said.
Among the new measures announced Thursday:
• All AdventHealth team members and physicians are being tested for COVID-19.
• Every patient being admitted or in an observation status, as well as patients undergoing a procedure, will be tested for COVID-19. Only COVID-negative patients will undergo elective procedures at AdventHealth hospitals.
• All team members and visitors must wear a surgical/loop mask when in an AdventHealth facility and will be temperature checked when they enter our buildings.
• Advent Health will resume elective procedures beginning May 4, with time-sensitive cases taking precedence.
• Beginning May 4, each patient will be allowed one visitor per day. Visitors will be given temperature checks and masks to be worn while inside the hospital.
• Robust cleaning and sterilization/disinfectant processes have been enhanced, and more sanitization stations have been added across the hospitals.
• Video visits and expanded telehealth services will be available immediately, as they have been during the pandemic, to lessen the burden on facilities and provide additional comfort and convenience for patients.
• Social distancing, masking, and contactless services will become standard practice at AdventHealth Medical Group and Centra Care locations, as well as other outpatient offices. Instead of waiting in crowded offices, where social distancing may present a challenge, patients will use virtual check-in and wait in their vehicles or outside the practice until a room is ready. Check-out procedures may occur completely on a patient’s mobile device, but sometimes could occur in the exam room if there are extenuating circumstances.
AdventHealth will continue to operate community drive-up testing sites throughout Central Florida, and testing continues in hospitals and Centra Care locations. Altogether, AdventHealth has tested more than 51,000 people in Central Florida for COVID-19.