Sarasota Memorial Hospital rolls out telemedicine to protect patients, staff

One day ago, Sarasota Memorial Hospital lost its first patient battling COVID-19. "We knew this day would probably come, we were hoping it wouldn't," said Dr.James Fiorica. 

Dr. Fiorica, Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s chief medical officer, hopes numbers will slow.

As of Wednesday evening, 27 people have tested positive in Sarasota County. Twenty-one patients were diagnosed at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and 11 remain hospitalized. 

RELATED Sarasota Memorial Hospital physician tests positive for COVID-19

"We all certainly see what’s going on in New York, and Italy and other places across the country and around the world,” explained Sarasota Memorial Hospital CEO David Verinder. “We want to prevent that from happening here.” 

Verinder believes there's one way to slow the pandemic. "I think it’s important to isolate as much as we can, we would encourage the county or the city to make as many policies as they can to limit social contact and have people stay at home and wait this out," said Verinder. 

Without stricter guidelines in place, hospital staff work to protect themselves as best they can during the coronavirus pandemic. SMH recently rolled out telemedicine to non-critical patients in each isolation room. 

"If the health care provider doesn't need to go into the room and they can evaluate the person through telehealth, we’d prefer that so we don't expose extra people and still provide that care," Fiorica explained. 

They hope to reduce exposure in the Emergency Room soon, by allowing walk-in patients to access a telehealth option. 

As days continue to pass, one thing remains true. Doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals of all kinds are on the front lines of this battle. 

"It is really moving, they come in every day, they gown up, they’re here to take care of the patients that are in real need," said Verinder. 

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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