Where Tampa Bay area hospital systems stand on vaccine mandates, elective surgeries

TAMPA, Fla. — As COVID-19 cases again surge across the state of Florida, ABC Action News is checking with local hospital systems to see where they stand on vaccine mandates, as well as changes to visitor policies, elective surgeries and more. RECOMMENDED: Florida’s COVID-19 surge creates ‘unprecedented’ wait times for […]

TAMPA, Fla. — As COVID-19 cases again surge across the state of Florida, ABC Action News is checking with local hospital systems to see where they stand on vaccine mandates, as well as changes to visitor policies, elective surgeries and more.

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Please note: This story will be regularly updated as we learn more and as hospitals reform their rules


AdventHealth

  • Vaccine policy
    • “Based on scientific evidence, COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective at reducing both the risk of becoming infected and spreading the infection to others. As part of our commitment to protecting the health and well-being of our team members, patients, and communities, we strongly encourage all of our team members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. At this time, AdventHealth has not mandated vaccines for our team members.”
  • Visitor policy (as of August 2)
    • COVID-19 positive — virtual visits
    • Non-COVID-19 patients —one visitor at a time
    • Obstetrics and pediatric patients —two visitors at a time
    • Under 18 – COVID-19 positive patients —two adult caregivers at a time
    • OB COVID-19 positive symptomatic —C-Section —two visitors a day, no visitors in OR
  • Elective surgeries
    • Beginning Monday, August 16, AdventHealth Dade City, AdventHealth Sebring, and AdventHealth Zephyrhills have temporarily postponed any non-urgent elective procedures that require an overnight stay. Patients will be notified directly if their procedure will be rescheduled.
    • All AdventHealth West Florida Division hospital locations, including the above, will continue to perform same-day procedures that do not require an overnight stay. We will also continue with time-sensitive urgent and emergent surgeries and procedures as scheduled. This decision allows us to further plan for the increased need for hospital beds, resources, and advocate for patient and team members.

Click here for the latest information from AdventHealth.


Veterans Health Administration

  • Vaccine policy
    • “Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough will expand his previous COVID-19 vaccine mandate Friday, Aug. 13, to apply to most Veterans Health Administration employees and volunteers and contractors who work in VHA facilities, visit VHA facilities or otherwise come into contact with VA patients and healthcare workers as part of their duties.”
  • Visitor policy
    • All inpatient visitation is currently suspended
    • Until further notice, the Spinal Cord Injury Center and Community Living Center will not have indoor OR outdoor visitation due to the high community COVID-19 rates.
    • For non-COVID inpatients in Acute Care (Medical/Surgery and Intensive Care Unit) and Rehab/Polytrauma only, visitation will be daily from noon-8 p.m.
      • Patients can be visited by one visitor, per day after the patient’s initial COVID-19 testing has been completed and the result is negative. No visitors under the age of 18 are allowed EXCEPT as determined on a case by case basis for end-of-life visitation. Please contact the unit for more information on this exception.
    • When permitted for SCI patients, outdoor visitation will be allowed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Family members must first coordinate with the Veterans’ unit.
    • Indoor visitation, when permitted will be available from noon to 5 p.m. limited to one family member at a time, per day with no one under the age of 18 permitted. Indoor visitation must be coordinated with the Veteran’s unit prior to arriving at the hospital. Family members can only visit in the designated area—near the main SCI lobby.
  • Elective surgeries
    • All James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital and Clinics facilities are fully operational.

Click here for the latest information.

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Moffitt Cancer Center

  • Vaccine policy
    • “Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic our top priority has always been the safety and health of our patients and our team members charged with their care. Many of our patients are immunocompromised and tend to be older. Because of the recent rise in the case rate and the spread of the delta variant, we have implemented enhanced safety protocols for our team members. We are not requiring staff to be vaccinated, but we are encouraging it to protect our vulnerable patients and team members. Those not yet vaccinated will be tested weekly for COVID-19. Regardless of vaccination status, all staff must wear masks in all patient-facing areas. These protocols are similar to how we handle the flu season annually. We will continue to regularly evaluate all protocols to ensure Moffitt remains the safest place for our patients, team members and all who walk through our doors.”
  • Visitor policy (as of August 9)
    • Outpatient appointments — One healthy adult visitor is allowed, including in infusion bays.
    • Inpatients — One healthy adult visitor is allowed; visitors may change throughout the day, but only one is allowed at a time; one visitor may stay overnight in the hospital.
    • Surgeries — Surgical patients may have one healthy adult visitor, and one visitor may stay overnight in the hospital.
    • Endoscopies — Endoscopy patients may have one caregiver with them on the day of the procedure.
      • The caregiver may accompany the patient to their inpatient room (if applicable).
    • Urgent Care — One healthy adult visitor may remain with the patient.
    • BMT Patients in the Hospital — BMT inpatients may have one designated caregiver that must stay with the patient for the entire time of their hospitalization.
    • End-of-Life Care and Support — Patients may have two caregivers for comfort when end of life is imminent.
    • Visitors must:
      • Be 18 or older (children are not allowed on campus).
      • Be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entry.
      • Remain in patient rooms or with the patient throughout the appointment unless otherwise directed by staff.
      • Remain fully masked at all times, regardless of vaccination status. Failure to wear a mask may result in the visitor being asked to leave or being escorted from campus.
      • Adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • Elective surgeries

Click here for the latest information.


BayCare Health System

  • Vaccine policy
    • “BayCare strongly encourages our team members and all who are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.”
  • Visitor policy (as of August 3)
    • Patients will be allowed one adult visitor per day during the hours of 8 a.m. to 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.
    • All other limitations on visitation at BayCare hospitals remain in effect due to BayCare’s continued commitment to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety of patients, visitors, team members and physicians:
      • Only visitors 18 years or older, who pass COVID-19 screening, are allowed entry. All visitors must wear a mask during their entire visit.
      • Inpatients will be allowed one visitor per day from 8am-8pm, except for the exceptions noted below.
      • Extended hours and provisions are allowed for pediatric, neonatal intensive care, labor and delivery and mothers and newborns.
      • No visitors will be allowed for Behavioral Health or COVID-19 patients.
      • Patients arriving for surgeries and procedures (in facilities where elective surgeries are open) will be allowed a visitor during pre-operation and recovery times.
      • Visitor capacity is limited in our emergency rooms. One visitor is allowed per patient, depending on capacity. If waiting areas become too crowded, visitors may be asked to wait outside until their patient is in a treatment room. Visitors aren’t allowed to accompany COVID-19-positive patients or patients who are suspected of having COVID-19 until the patient is no longer in isolation/quarantine.
      • Special circumstances can be approved by hospital leadership on a case-by-case basis, including reasonable accommodation for patients with disabilities or special needs and to comply with applicable laws.

BayCare’s Madonna Ptak Morton Plant Rehabilitation Center in Belleair and Mitchell Rehabilitation Center in New Port Richey are NOT impacted by this change and will continue to offer visitation in compliance with the state’s emergency rules for long-term care facilities. BayCare Alliant Hospital in Dunedin will also continue its visitation schedule of 3 p.m.- 8 p.m.

  • Elective surgeries
    • BayCare Health System has paused all elective procedures in its hospitals in Hillsborough County due to a growing census in those facilities.
      • Elective procedures are those that can be delayed without danger to the patient. Urgent and emergent procedures will continue. 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.
    • Starting Aug. 14, BayCare will pause elective surgeries and procedures at all of its hospitals in Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties, regardless of whether they require an overnight stay.

Click here for the latest information.

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HCA West Florida

  • Vaccine policy
    • “Our infectious disease experts as well as those at the CDC are strongly encouraging vaccination as a critical step to protect individuals from the virus, but at this time our caregivers are not required to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Our hospitals follow guidance outlined by the CDC regarding protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in our facilities, including requiring universal masking for all colleagues, patients and visitors.”
  • Visitor policy
    • Inpatient Units – No visitors are permitted. Exceptions must be approved by the hospital Administrator on Call (AOC) or administration and can be made for:
      • end-of-life situations
      • labor and delivery, post-partum, and the NICU
        • one visitor is allowed and may stay overnight
      • behavioral health units
        • a patient’s attorney of record, a state of federal representative on official duty, and end-of-life situation visitors are allowed in accordance with State of Florida Emergency Order No. 20-52.
    • Emergency Room – One visitor is allowed per patient in the ER. Once a patient is admitted to the hospital, the visitor must leave as visitors are not allowed in inpatient areas.
    • Outpatient Procedures – One visitor is allowed per patient who is having an outpatient surgery or other outpatient procedure requiring sedation. Visitor must remain in the designated waiting area. If the patient is admitted as an inpatient, the visitor must leave as visitors are not allowed in inpatient areas.
    • Anyone under the age of 18 will not be considered for visitation unless they are the parent of a hospitalized child.
  • Elective surgeries
    • “We are constantly evaluating our hospital resources, such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and intensive care unit bed availability, and making adjustments to our approach if and when protocols need to evolve. We also are in continuous communication with local healthcare delivery systems, including state and local health officials, and those surgeons who have direct responsibility for their patients. We continue to follow Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recommendations as they evolve. Our hospital will accommodate procedures that physicians determine to be appropriate within those recommendations.”

Click here for the latest information.


Lakeland Regional Health

  • Vaccine policy
    • “At Lakeland Regional Health, we continue to educate, encourage and incentivize our team members to get vaccinated, especially given the current spike in cases. The vaccines are not mandatory at this time at Lakeland Regional Health, but we have seen a steady increase in the number of team members getting vaccinated in recent weeks. We have made the COVID-19 vaccine available at our facility, but many team members choose other locations, so we do not have complete data regarding our team’s inoculation status. Our team members also actively use high quality personal protective equipment and other safety measures in their work at our Medical Center and our ambulatory locations.”
  • Visitor policy
    • The visitation policy at the Medical Center allows for one visitor per patient with the following exceptions:
      • Obstetric hospital patients: 1 labor partner + doula.
      • Pediatric, Children’s Emergency and NICU patients: Both parents.
      • Patients at the end of life: Visitors with approval of nursing leader in charge of unit.
      • Patients undergoing surgery: 2 visitors.
      • Emergency Department respiratory patients: No visitation unless approved by the department leader.
  • Elective surgeries
    • Starting Monday, August 16, Lakeland Regional Health will temporarily postpone elective surgeries that require an inpatient stay.
    • Same day surgical procedures or urgent and emergent surgeries will not be impacted. Patients will be notified directly to reschedule their procedure if their surgery is affected.

Click here for the latest information.


Sarasota Memorial Health Care System

  • Vaccine policy
    • “More than 90% of our physicians and approximately 70% of overall staff have been vaccinated. At this time, SMH is not mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. We understand that some people are hesitant due to allergies, other health conditions and personal concerns, including concerns about pregnancy. We continue to encourage vaccination and are making progress as we work 1-on-1 to address individual questions and concerns. They are working hard to care for our community and we want them to feel encouraged, not forced, to get a vaccine. That said, we are monitoring the vaccine approval process and as it transitions from emergency use authorization to full approval, we continue to monitor our employee vaccination rates and evaluate our stance.”
  • Visitor policy
    • As part of our continuing efforts to keep staff, patients and our community safe amid the current COVID-19 surge, Sarasota Memorial is currently NOT allowing patient visitation, with limited exceptions (see below).
      • Patients in certain extraordinary circumstances, such as end-of-life care.
      • Patients in the Emergency Care Center (ER) may each have 1 support person, who will be allowed to wait in the ECC lobby (first-floor access only). If a patient requires a support person’s assistance to receive treatment (such as a stroke patient who cannot speak), then 1 essential caregiver may be allowed to accompany the patient into the Emergency Care Center or another patient care area, as necessary.
      • Labor & Delivery Unit and Mother-Baby Unit patients may each have 1 support person. Labor & Delivery patients who are transferred to SMH may have a certified doula or community midwife in addition to their 1 support person. No other visitors/support people allowed.
      • Pediatric Unit patients may each have 1 parent/caregiver or designated support person for the duration of the patient stay (1 visitor total).
      • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) patients may each have 2 visitors, but only 1 visitor per day. The visitor must be the NICU patient’s parent/caregiver or the same designated support person who accompanied the Labor & Delivery patient.
      • Patients in surgical, procedural and therapy departments may each have 1 support person. The support person must remain in the designated waiting area.
  • Elective surgeries
    • “As SMH manages an influx of COVID-19 patients this summer, we are working closely with local surgeons to temporarily limit non-urgent, elective procedures that require longer inpatient hospital stays. Any postponed procedures will be rescheduled as soon as possible.We will continue monitoring our case load and surgery schedule daily to ensure that patients needing essential procedures like cardiac and cancer-related surgeries receive the care they need without delay.By safely postponing non-urgent surgeries that require hospital admission, we can free up staffing, space and resources to care for all hospitalized patients during this COVID-19 surge. Outpatient testing and procedures, such as colonoscopies, endoscopies, mammography and other imaging studies, will continue to be performed. Please contact your doctor’s office if you have any questions.”

Click here for the latest information.

Lorena Princevalle

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