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Community Voices: Seeking safe care during the Covid-19 pandemic

Sharon Hayes

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Welcome to the Catalyst’s Community Voices platform. We’ve curated community leaders and thinkers from all parts of our great city to speak on issues that affect us all. Visit our Community Voices page for more details.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made it crystal clear just how much communities rely on their local hospitals, and also how much we rely on you. During the past few weeks, we’ve felt an outpouring of support and we are grateful to everyone who has delivered a meal, sewn a facemask, left a card, a sign or a chalk drawing, or who has just reached out to one of our caregivers and support team to say – thank you. We also appreciate the local first responders that have taken the time to recognize our staff during shift change on multiple occasions.

As Pinellas County’s only Trauma Center and St. Petersburg’s longest-running hospital, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg is used to responding in times of crisis. But this pandemic is unlike anything any of us has ever experienced. And, we know it has created anxiety for many people, especially when it comes to seeking healthcare services. So, we want you to know two things.

First, you can count on us to maintain a safe environment for patients and employees. We are taking extraordinary measures – going above and beyond all of our normal efforts to keep our hospital, emergency departments and physician clinics clean and safe – because, if you need healthcare, we want you to feel confident and to know you are protected. We are screening everyone who comes into the hospital, providing facemasks and other personal protective equipment to staff and patients, rearranging our environments to enable social distancing, and caring for patients with Covid-19 in areas separate and isolated from the rest of the hospital. Of course, our cleaning staff is disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces and doing a terrific job of keeping our hospital, ERs and clinics clean.

We also want you to know that if you have sudden symptoms that may indicate an emergency health concern, you can – and you should – seek immediate medical attention. Tragically, people with serious emergencies, including heart attacks and stroke, are waiting too long for medical care. Getting fast medical treatment could be the difference between life and death – so please, don’t ignore or rationalize the signs of a health emergency. Call 911, come to the hospital, and get the help you need.

The same goes for chronic conditions and even routine healthcare needs. Many of our doctors offer telehealth visits for those who prefer not to come into the office. But if an in-person visit is required, we are keeping our offices safe – so you can visit your doctor, if needed.

I am so proud of our team and the way they have stepped up to this new normal. I’m also proud of everyone in our community who has stayed home to help flatten the curve and limit the spread of Covid-19.

Standing together we have seen how powerful our human connection really is. So, keep standing together – but stay six feet apart. Wash your hands frequently. Tell someone how much you appreciate them. And, if you need healthcare, please don’t be afraid. We are here and prepared to care for you, and also to keep you safe.

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