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Tampa Bay hospitals adjust rules for visitors due to coronavirus

The new restrictions vary depending on the facility.
The entrance to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where visitors are limited to no more than two parents or guardians for the duration of the patient’s stay because of the coronavirus pandemic. All Children's is one of many hospitals in Tampa Bay that have adjusted their visitor policies. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
The entrance to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where visitors are limited to no more than two parents or guardians for the duration of the patient’s stay because of the coronavirus pandemic. All Children's is one of many hospitals in Tampa Bay that have adjusted their visitor policies. [DIRK SHADD | Times]

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Hospitals across Tampa Bay have placed new limitations on who can visit in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus and to protect patients and health care workers.

“With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rising in Florida and around the nation, we are further limiting access into our hospitals to help ensure that our patients, caregivers, and visitors are safe,” said Dr. Ravi Chari, president, HCA Healthcare West Florida in a statement.

At HCA hospitals like Largo Medical Center or the Medical Center at Trinity, most patients aren’t allowed to have visitors at all. There are exceptions for patients in labor and delivery, the neonatal intensive care unit, behavioral health departments and in end-of-life situations, according to a press release.

These new rules go into effect at HCA hospitals across the region on Friday. It does not affect attorneys or government officials on duty who might need to see a patient.

In emergency rooms, only one visitor is allowed per patient, the release said. But once a patient is admitted to the hospital, that visitor must leave.

For outpatient procedures at HCA hospitals, patients can still have one visitor at a time. That person must remain in a designated waiting area.

All visitors who are under 18 won’t be allowed in unless they are the parent of a hospitalized child.

And all guests on the hospital campus will still be screened for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. They must answer questions about if they are experiencing symptoms like fever or shortness of breath, and if they’ve traveled outside of the country in the last 14 days. Anyone who answers yes to these questions will not be allowed to enter the hospital.

Hospital operators are encouraging patients and their family members to use their phones, or apps like Skype and FaceTime to connect virtually for now.

At Tampa General Hospital, adult patients can have one approved visitor. Only the parents of pediatric patients will be allowed to enter the hospital. And for patients giving birth, their partner and a certified birth assistant, like a doula, can be present for delivery. The hospital has suspended all other visitation at this time.

Every visitor to Tampa General must provide photo identification to enter the hospital.

“Because our hospital handles emergencies and traumatic injuries every day, exceptions will be allowed in certain cases,” a press release said.

BayCare hospitals are limiting visitors to the hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, according to its website. Anyone under 18 will not be allowed on campus. All adult visitors will be screened for COVID-19.

Visitors are restricted from visiting BayCare’s residential facilities for 30 days, as part of the March 15 emergency order by the Florida Department of Emergency Management. This applies to Morton Plant North Bay’s Mitchell Rehabilitation Center and BayCare behavioral residential facilities.

Bayfront Health in St. Petersburg is only allowing “essential visitors” such as immediate family, a partner or others ages 16 and older to see patients currently admitted to the hospital, said marketing director, David Larrick.

“The limit of visitors is one at a time and visitors must enter through the hospital’s emergency department or West Entrance,” he said in an email. “Decisions regarding visitors in end-of-life situations will be made on a case-by-case basis.”

At Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, visitors are limited to no more than two parents or guardians for the duration of the patient’s stay, said spokeswoman Danielle Caci. The hospital is also rescheduling some outpatient appointments to limit the number of people coming to the campus.

Visiting hours and age restrictions vary by location at AdventHealth hospitals in Central Florida, said spokeswoman Ashley Jeffery. All patients and visitors will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and travel histories. All visitors who are sick are being asked not to enter the hospital, she said.

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