January 29, 2021
SUN CITY CENTER, Florida (Jan. 28, 2020) – South Bay Hospital was honored to receive a community appreciation award, January 27, from the Sun City Center Emergency Squad recognizing the hospital’s partnership in successful COVID-19 community testing.
Over the past four months nearly 5,000 people received free COVID-19 Rapid Antigen tests as a result of a combined community effort by South Bay Hospital, Sun City Center Emergency Squad, Sun City Center Community Emergency Response Team (C.E.R.T.), Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office, Florida State Health Department, and many other area partners.
“This initiative has been a beautiful example of the strength of Sun City Center when everyone comes together for the greater good,” said Sheldon Barr, South Bay Hospital Chief Executive Officer. “The hospital has been so honored to have the opportunity to serve the community in this capacity, and we are grateful that the Emergency Squad is recognizing all of the partners in this way.”
Community testing events were held on hospital property and supported by lab personnel from across HCA’s West Florida Division. Hospital caregivers supported the events by joining other volunteers in recording participating information, swabbing participants, providing traffic control support, and ferrying results to participants waiting in their vehicles.
“I am beyond grateful to have had South Bay Hospital offer rapid COVID testing here in our community,” said Debbie Caneen, Director of Admissions, Sun Towers Retirement Community, and local community resident in Sun City Center. “My husband and I were driving to Tennessee to see my daughter for Thanksgiving who has autoimmune issues so the event was an answer to prayer. It was well-organized, allowing us to drive in, wait for just a short time in the parking lot and then receive our results.”
Chief Mike Bardell of the Sun City Center Emergency Squad expressed appreciation for the coordination between the organizations throughout the pandemic. He wanted to make sure that people were thanked for going above and beyond.
“It was really a long term partnership,” said Bardell. “I wanted to recognize how we all came together to work through the twists and turns.”
The Sun City Center Emergency Squad is an all-volunteer emergency response team that takes patients in the over-65 community of Sun City Center to their hospitals of choice. The organization, which has been around for over 56 years, consists primarily of volunteers that are over the age of 65 themselves. They have continued to provide ambulance service throughout the pandemic.
“We are fortunate to have Chief Bardell and the amazing volunteers of the Sun City Center Emergency Squad in this community,” said Barr. “We look forward to working closely with them on future initiatives.”