June 23, 2020
Sun City Center, Florida – Physicians and hospital caregivers at South Bay Hospital encourage patients to seek adequate care, June 13, over a month after resuming routine patient care services. South Bay Hospital joined hospitals across Florida returning to scheduled surgeries and other hospital procedures, following an April 29 executive order by Governor Ron DeSantis.
“It is important for patients to receive the appropriate care they need and be aware that delaying care, such as scheduled surgeries, can cause further deterioration of their medical health and lead to emergent surgeries in the future,” said Dr. Ahmad Issa, Chief Medical Officer at South Bay Hospital. “Emergent surgeries can sometimes have more complicated post-operative courses and lead to longer recovery times and higher financial costs.”
Since resuming surgeries and procedures, South Bay Hospital has seen a near-normal volume of patients return to the hospital for these treatments. However, caregivers fear that some patients may still be afraid to seek help.
“The average acuity of our patients has gone up significantly, meaning that patients are arriving in our ER much sicker,” said Michael Zimmerman, South Bay Hospital's Director of Emergency Services. “We're concerned that patients may be waiting to seek care and failing to recognize potentially serious conditions that could result in poor outcomes if treatment is delayed.”
“I don't think at this particular point there is a need to wait because we have a whole lot of safety procedures put in place,” said Cheryl Quimby, Director of Surgical Services at South Bay Hospital. “We're back now and everyone that is here is having a great experience with us and our goal is to keep them safe.”
Quimby stressed the safety procedures the hospital has put in place including universal screening and masks for everyone entering the hospital. Additionally, patients coming for a scheduled surgery are all tested in advanced for COVID-19, a simple drive-up procedure using a throat swab. Areas throughout the hospital are extensively cleaned, and patients with COVID-19 are cared for in a different area of the hospital on a separate floor.
South Bay Hospital CEO, Dan Bender, released a video walkthrough of the hospital's extensive safety procedures that have been established to ensure patient and caregiver safety. The hospital has also answered frequently asked questions regarding scheduled surgeries and procedures on the website at www.southbayhospital.com.
Anne Ladue is a retired nurse with 50 years of experience. She has been a volunteer at South Bay Hospital for the past six years and prior to that was employed by the hospital as a nurse working in day surgery. She has been busy over the past few weeks after patients and providers returned for scheduled procedures. She feels the hospital is one of the safest places to be and is glad to be able to provide patients and their families comfort.
“I think this is probably one of the safest places you could be,” said Ladue. “We are all wearing masks, washing our hands, it is a very clean environment and I think you are probably safer than if you are going to the grocery store.”
Initially, safety measures restricted family members from coming with a patient into the pre-operation area. On June 10 the hospital began inviting one family member to accompany surgery patients into that area.
“I think it gives the patient's family comfort to have a family member be able to sit with their loved one before they go to surgery,” said Ladue. “And now that the hospital is allowing one visitor at a time for in-patients, it also makes a big difference after surgery.”
Issa, Ladue and Quimby all stressed that putting off needed surgery was dangerous and detrimental to a patient's overall health.
“I hope that doctors are conveying that we're doing everything we can to keep patients safe here,” said Ladue. “I just love it here.”