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Update: BayCare tightens Covid-19 testing, eliminates most hospital visits

Margie Manning

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Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

The short supply of testing materials has led BayCare Health System to tighten the criteria for patients that will be tested for Covid-19 coronavirus.

Additionally, the health system, the largest in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area with 15 hospitals including St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, is not allowing visitors to see patients in most circumstances, starting today.

BayCare will be testing only patients currently experiencing physical symptoms, starting today. That’s a change from when the drive-thru testing began on Wednesday; at that time, BayCare said it would test patients who had experienced symptoms in the past 14 days.

The reason for the change is that the test relies on virus particles being present in the nasal passages, which would cause symptoms. Doctors referring patents for testing are asked to complete a form that is explicit about the patient needing to display physical symptoms.

“We need to be testing symptomatic individuals – those with fever, shortness of breath, a cough – and reserving our limited supplies for those cases,” Dr.  Nishant Anand, chief medical officer for BayCare, said in a news release. “Every asymptomatic patient we test means one less swab is available to those more likely to test positive.”

BayCare has reduced the hours the seven test sites are open. Starting today, they will operate from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. St. Petersburg has one test site, at BayCare Urgent Care in Carillon, at 900 Carillon Parkway. The others are:

  • BayCare Urgent Care (New Port Richey), 4821 U.S. Highway 19, New Port Richey, FL 34652
  • BayCare Urgent Care (Countryside), 3351 N. McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater, FL 33761
  • BayCare Urgent Care (Tampa), 3440 W. Dr. MLK Jr. Blvd., Suite 100, Tampa, FL 33607
  • BayCare Urgent Care (New Tampa), 17512 Dona Michelle Drive, Suite 5, Tampa, FL 33647
  • BayCare Urgent Care (Bloomingdale), 2442 Bloomingdale Ave., Valrico, FL 33596
  • BayCare Urgent Care (Haines City), 36245 U.S. Highway 27, Haines City, FL 33844

Closing hospital visits in most circumstances also is part of BayCare’s plan to limit the spread of infectious disease.

There are a few exceptions, at the discretion of the hospital administrator on duty:

  • Inpatient
    • Labor and delivery, post-partum, pediatrics and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
    • End of life situations
    • Behavioral Health Unit
  • Emergency Room
    • Waiting room only
  • Outpatient procedures
    • Waiting room only when accompanying a patient receiving sedation

Visitors first must be screened for signs and symptoms of Covid-19 and those deemed at risk will be barred from entering, and may be referred to the emergency department, BayCare said.

HCA Healthcare West Florida hospitals on Friday barred most inpatient visits with similar exceptions. Read more here. HCA hospitals in St. Petersburg are St. Petersburg General Hospital, Northside Hospital and Palms of Pasadena Hospital. Largo Medical Center  is an HCA hospital.

 

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