MARCH 25, 2020


RADIO DJ: Good morning everyone! It is time to live healthy at any age. Join us now as we look at a variety of different health topics discussed by South Bay Hospital staff and their guests. Here's your host Director of Marketing for South Bay Hospital, Lesley Lykins with this week's Healthy at Any Age.

LESLEY LYKINS: Welcome back to Healthy at Any Age brought to you by South Bay Hospital where above all else we are committed to the care and improvement of human life. I am your host Lesley Lykins and I'm pleased to welcome to the show today hospital CEO, Dan Bender.

DAN BENDER: Thanks Lesley, I'm glad to have the opportunity to speak with our community today.

LESLEY LYKINS: Dan let's begin with a question that I know is on the minds of many of our local residents. How is the team at South Bay Hospital holding up right now?

DAN BENDER: Sure Lesley and I appreciate the question. You know our number one goal is to be here for the community and I think that a lot of questions have been raised and a lot of folks have a lot of things they would like to know more about. So first and foremost South Bay Hospital and our team at South Bay is very confident and very prepared in what we've been doing. We treat patients with infections disease every day and the care and safety of our patients, colleagues and community is absolutely our top priority.

I can tell you honestly for the past couple of weeks here we've been working closely with our team at HCA Healthcare West Florida and HCA Healthcare, for some of you may or may not know is an advanced healthcare network across the nation that is absolutely no stranger to threats. You know our parent company has been around since 1968 so if you think back on any of the major pandemics, H1N1, SARS, anything like that our company not only was a part of those but we worked through them.

So from our perspective and everything that I have observed thus far we are very very hopeful and we are very very prepared to handle the needs of any community member that were to come into our hospital today.

LESLEY LYKINS: It is reassuring to know South Bay Hospital has such a significant network of resources and also best practices behind the hospital that can support us through this period. What are some of those steps that South bay has taken so far to protect the patients and the staff right now?

DAN BENDER: Absolutely so one of the things that I will say is that it does seem to be that the guidance on this COVID-19 seems to be changing hourly if not by the minute and thought I will tell you as the threat from COVID-10 has amplified so to have our efforts. We are currently limiting entry into our hospitals and clinics in the West Florida Division. So that means that anybody that comes into South Bay that enters into any of the patient care areas is absolutely being carefully screened and masks will be provided to them. All of our employees, caregivers and physicians have been asked to follow a self-screening procedure and everybody understands what necessary precautions they need to take should they feel they have come in contact with anybody.

Protecting our patients is again number 1 and we absolutely do that by starting with our people. As always we're cleaning to help prevent the spread of infection from going out through any part of our hospital and we've also introduced some new guidelines limiting the amount of people that can come into the hospital.

If you are planning to visit South Bay or you are planning to visit someone at South Bay rather, I would encourage you to check out our website for the updated policy on that.

LESLEY LYKINS: Thank you and that website for our listeners today, the South Bay Hospital website is

Again, I would echo what Dan said and encourage you to check out the website before coming to the hospital to get the latest information around our visitor policy. So Dan as we hear about more Americans contracting the COVID-19 virus, what are some of the things our local community neighbors can do to protect themselves right now?

DAN BENDER: You know Lesley there's been a lot on the news and a lot of information that's been provided. I absolutely want to thank and recognize all of the community centers and organizations that have taken extra precautions to limit gatherings right now. I think that's absolutely critical. Following the President's order on having no gatherings or meetings with 10 or more people is absolutely going to be helpful in stopping the spread of this virus. These decisions that are being made right now are absolutely helping to protect all the residents of not only Sun City, Wimaumau and Ruskin area but it is also going to protect the remainder of the nation.

So I think that folks just have to be very smart and very diligent in their interactions with one another. Now this is a virus, like any other virus and the CDC has released guidelines on how best to avoid that and people should absolutely continue to wash their hands frequently. That should be for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. One of the rules that we use at the hospital is to sing Happy Birthday twice. If you sing Happy Birthday twice while you're washing your hands typically that's a long enough time as long as you don't speed through it. That should be enough time to get through it. This is particularly important after using the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing because that is when the viral contaminant if you will is most active. And that's when it would most likely spread between shaking hands of if you were to touch something then put it to your mouth, that's how the virus can get in there. If soap and water aren't available there are times when it can be very difficult, then the suggestion is using an alcohol based hand sanitizer. That hand sanitizer should contain at least 60% alcohol. I know there's some designer sanitizers out there with glitter and all other kinds of fun things in them. Just make sure there's 60% alcohol and that's what we've been told is best practice.

We've started something new at the hospital called the Corona or COVID handshake where you basically bump elbows. We've seen a couple of people do a fist bumps and other things like that. Shaking hands right now is really probably not the best of things. You can absolutely do it and again if you follow the appropriate precaution you'll be fine, but handshaking should be avoided when possible. And then lastly the biggest thing our residents can do is avoid close contact with anybody that is known to be sick and stay home when you are sick. You know the last thing you want to do is spread this to somebody else and potentially infect other people. So really truthfully following the appropriate government guidelines and self-quarantining and being smart about who you are around and knowing the individuals that you are coming in close contact with is very good.

The President uses what he calls social distancing and that is anywhere, generally that's a distance of between 3-6 feet depending on where you are and that is probably a sound practice. So avoid any large gatherings where you're going to be clustered with other people and try to be very mindful of who and what you're touching at all times.

LESLEY LYKINS: If you are just joining us, you are listening to "Healthy at Any Age" programming brought to you by South Bay Hospital. I'm your host, Lesley Lykins and our guest today is hospital CEO, Dan Bender. We are discussing South Bay Hospital and current concerns around COVID-19. So Dan, if someone believes that they have COVID-19 what are they supposed to do now?

DAN BENDER: I think that's a great question Lesley and I think that you know Coronavirus definitely needs to be taken seriously. You know the symptoms of it may appear anywhere from about 2-14 days after exposure. I'll say that again 2-14 days after exposure. You can come in contact with someone and may not be symptomatic immediately it may transpire a little later. Symptoms generally include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. If you feel that you've been in contact with somebody or you feel that you've developed symptoms of COVID-19 the recommendation is that you call your doctor to determine how best to get treatment. There are different pathways in which that can be done and you and your physician should be able to navigate through those.

If there is any point in time where you have significant trouble breathing or you feel you need emergency care, South Bay Hospital will absolutely treat every patient arriving to our ED whether or not they have COVID-19. I don't want people to think anybody can't come locally to get treatment. We do have the capability for testing all COVID-19 patients at our hospital and we are not actively screening though. So that means that we don't have some of you may have seen there are some drive through screening clinics and some other things of that nature. South Bay isn't doing that.

One of the things that I would suggest is that there is good information on the Florida Department of Health's website and I would encourage every one of our residents to check that website daily because the information does change fairly regularly.

LESLEY LYKINS: Absolutely and so again I echo what Dan says because information is changing so rapidly we don't know when you'll listen to this programming, please make sure you're checking those websites. The Florida Department of Health website is located at Dan, a common question from the local community right now is whether there are any current positive COVID-19 patients at South Bay Hospital.

DAN BENDER: So at South Bay Hospital currently, just like any other hospital in the area, we must respect patient privacy. As such, we won't disclose any details about whether or not there are any active cases of COVID-19 in our hospital. Regardless I do want our residents to know that we are prepared and we have activated infection control protocols and we continue to work closely with the CDC and local and state health departments to ensure that we can not only identify, test and if necessary isolate people who may be infected.

I would like to address a concern that I've heard from some of our community members. I guess one of the rumors that's out there is that if there was an active COVID-19 patient what would happen to the hospital. And I want everybody to understand that we are treating COVID-19 like we do any other virus. We would follow appropriate protocol and the hospital would not shut down and we would have the capability to handle other individuals whether they be there for COVID-19 or other potential medical necessities. Our facility is a safe place to seek care no matter what health needs you have. Since well before the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, our facilities have taken measures to create a safe environment for our patients, our staff and all of our physicians.

Now, as ever, we have strong protocols in place and are following all guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention otherwise known as the CDC. Along with all of our other precautions we have been very proactive and ready with all supplies related to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Many of you have probably seen on the media that there are questions about whether or not hospitals will be able to handle a mass influx of patients. I want to ensure everybody that all of our masks, gowns and any resources necessary for precautionary isolation of patients is available at our hospital and readily for use of our patients. The safety of our patients is and always has been our first priority and we will absolutely continue to provide safe, effective, patient-centered care at South Bay Hospital.

LESLEY LYKINS: Thanks Dan, I want to echo and reiterate that the hospital is a safe place to go right now and that we are prepared to take on patients that need additional medical treatment as well. So I just want to reiterate those points that you made. Is there any other information that you would like to share with the community at this time?

DAN BENDER: Yes there is, I'd like to reiterate that South Bay Hospital is part of our HCA Healthcare network and we are absolutely no stranger to threats. Again, our company has been around since 1968 and even though South Bay Hospital may seem like a small hospital. I want everybody to understand that we are part of a large, robust healthcare network and we have a large robust network to draw resources from. We absolutely place safety above all else for not only our patients but our visitors and caregivers.

I and the entire team at South Bay Hospital are very honored to be able to provide care to the residents of Sun City and the surrounding areas in Hillsborough and Manatee counties. We will absolutely continue to remain committed to the exceptional care or every person, every time as we have said before. We truly live our mission statement of above all else we are committed to the care and improvement of human life.

And I want everybody in Sun City, Wimaumau and Ruskin to understand that we are here for them during this trying time. We will absolutely get through this and I want everybody to know that South bay Hospital is committed to them and their families.

Thanks Lesley for your time today.

LESLEY LYKINS: Thanks Dan we appreciate your sharing this critical information for the community and I'd like to thank all of our listeners for joining us today on Healthy at Any Age, a program brought to you by South Bay Hospital.

CLOSE OUT: We hope you enjoyed the program and learned something of value today. Please be sure to tune in next time when South Bay Hospital and our guest will once again bring you health related topics of importance. Listen every Wednesday at 11am to Healthy at Any Age right here on your community radio station. Right here on Sun Radio 96.3FM. Thank you and have an exceptional day from South Bay Hospital.