Healthcare workers treat COVID-19 patients physically, mentally when family can't be present

The medical professionals at Sarasota Memorial Hospital work every day to save lives and in the last few weeks, they've worked harder than ever. 

"Walking into the hospital each day, everyone is just as committed and with a positive attitude about what it is we are doing. Ultimately, what we are doing is caring for people who need it," said Dr. Randal Schwartz.  

Since COVID-19 first appeared in the county, more than 1,075 people have been tested at SMH and 92 came back positive. As of Thursday, they're caring for 29 patients who are hospitalized. 

"Those of us who are able to be at the bedside are doing everything we can to make sure families still feel connected," said Dr. Schwartz. 

Schwartz is a pulmonologist and critical care intensivist at SMH. He said his co-workers have been there for patients both physically and mentally when their families can't be present. 

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Twelve patients have died from complications of COVID-19 at SMH. Each loss brings heartache for families and health care providers. Unlike other areas across the globe, doctors here can treat everyone. 

"We are only using 10% of our ventilator capacity at the moment,” Schwartz explained. “There was an incredibly rapid and effective plan to expand the number of our intensive care beds to the point that it seems today we maybe even to pull back on that. At least for the foreseeable future, we have the resources necessary so that we will not have to choose who gets care and who does not. I pray that day does not come.” 

A ray of light shines through the darkness, as these front-line medical professionals continue their mission. 

"There are patients who we are taking the breathing tube out of, they’re coming out of life support," Schwartz said. “They’re making a recovery and they’re leaving our ICU. We have discharged far more patients from the hospital that have been admitted to the ICU and exceptionally more than we have unfortunately lost.”

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


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