Health Care Providers

Public Health Reminder

Phase 1 of the Plan for Florida’s Recovery took effect May 4, 2020 and was updated effective May 11, 14 and 15, 2020.

  • Elective surgeries can resume and citizens are encouraged not to delay medical care which may put their health at risk, as there is ample capacity at health care facilities.
  • Medical services, including elective procedures, surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental offices, orthodontic offices, endodontic office and other health care practitioners’ offices may fully re-open.
  • Hospitals are required to assist nursing homes and long-term care facilities in protecting the vulnerable. They must maintain adequate bed capacity and PPE. They must also have the capacity to immediately convert additional surgical and intensive care beds in a surge situation and must not have received or sought any additional federal, state or local government assistance regarding PPE after resuming elective procedures.

 

Healthcare providers are on the front lines of caring for patients with confirmed or possible COVID-19 and therefore have an increased risk of exposure to this virus. Providers can minimize their risk of exposure when caring for confirmed or possible COVID-19 patients by following Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) or Persons Under Investigation for COVID-19 in Healthcare Settings.

The Florida Department of Health is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct surveillance for persons who may have been exposed to or infected with COVID-19 while traveling to impacted countries or who have had contact with a case to arrange for confirmatory testing. 

All health care providers should be prepared to identify, collect specimens, and care for persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19. Health care providers should immediately notify infection control personnel at their health care facility if they identify a person meeting the PUI for COVID-19 criteria.

 

Clinical Screening Tool for Identifying Persons Under Investigation

Symptomatic individuals should be asked to wear a surgical mask upon arrival. Initiate contact and airborne precautions, using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Clinical Screening Tool for Identifying Persons Under Investigation for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)  – Updated: March 28, 2020

Take steps to ensure rapid safe triage and isolation of patients with symptoms of suspected COVID-19 or other respiratory infection (e.g., fever, cough). If an examination room is not readily available ensure the patient is not allowed to wait among other patients seeking care. Health care personnel should adhere to Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions. It is important to set up separate, well-ventilated triage areas, place patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in private rooms with the door closed and with private bathrooms (if possible). Reserve AIIRs for patients with COVID-19 undergoing aerosol generating procedures and for care of patients with pathogens transmitted by the airborne route (e.g., tuberculosis, measles, varicella).

Guidelines for Isolation Precautions: Preventing Transmission of Infectious Agents in Healthcare Settings.

Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Patients with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Healthcare Settings

 

Priorities for Testing Patients with Suspected COVID-19 Infection 

PRIORITY 1

Ensures optimal care options for all hospitalized patients, lessen the risk of healthcare-associated infections, and maintain the integrity of the U.S. healthcare system.

  • Hospitalized patients
  • Healthcare facility workers with symptoms

PRIORITY 2

Ensures those at highest risk of complication of infection are rapidly identified and appropriately triaged.

  • Patients in long-term care facilities with symptoms
  • Patients 65 years of age and older with symptoms
  • Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms
  • First responders with symptoms

PRIORITY 3

As resources allow, test individuals in the surrounding community of rapidly increasing hospital cases to decrease community spread, and ensure health of essential workers.

  • Critical infrastructure workers with symptoms
  • Individuals who do not meet any of the above categories with symptoms
  • Individuals with mild symptoms in communities
TESTING

Collection of diagnostic respiratory specimens (e.g., nasopharyngeal swab) should be performed in a normal examination room with the door closed.

  • The health care provider is responsible for specimen collection, handling and shipping. Please follow CDC guidance.
  • Priority 1 and Priority 2 specimens should be processed within your health care facility, if available; a commercial laboratory (e.g., LabCorp and Quest), or the Florida Bureau of Public Health Laboratory (BPHL).
    • Before sending specimens to BPHL, contact your local county health department (CHD) Epidemiology Contacts.
  • Priority 3 specimens can be processed within your health care facility, if available; or a commercial laboratory (e.g., LabCorp and Quest).
  • Health care providers may consult a local CHD for additional guidance as needed.

 

Additional Guidance

Providers are encouraged to frequently monitor Florida Department of Health and CDC websites for updated guidance on COVID-19.

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Related Outreach Materials

The Florida Department of Health is working with private and public partners to actively be involved in enhanced surveillance for respiratory illness that may be COVID-19. Florida Department of Health Epidemiologists are partnering with providers to follow up on any suspected cases that meet criteria for COVID-19 to arrange for testing when needed and monitor contacts of any confirmed cases, if they occur.

The Florida Department of Health is communicating regularly with the public and health care providers with updates on COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. The COVID-19 Call Center is available 24/7 at 1-866-779-6121.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization are excellent sources of information about this evolving outbreak.

You can access their websites here:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
https://www.who.int/westernpacific/emergencies/novel-coronavirus

For Florida specific information, please consult The Florida Department of Health website:
http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/COVID-19/