Health Care Providers

Public Health Reminder

Healthcare facilities and clinicians should prioritize urgent and emergency visits and procedures now and for the coming several weeks. The following actions can preserve staff, personal protective equipment, and patient care supplies; ensure staff and patient safety; and expand available hospital capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic: 

  • Delay all elective ambulatory provider visits 
  • Reschedule elective and non-urgent admissions 
  • Delay inpatient and outpatient elective surgical and procedural cases 
  • Postpone routine dental and eyecare visits 

Tools and resources exist as part of healthcare system preparedness plans and are often referred to as Pandemic Plans. Consult your state or local health department about specific plans for your community. 

 

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). 

 

Screening Criteria

If your patient is exhibiting symptoms of acute lower respiratory illness (e.g., fever, cough, and shortness of breath) and meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Persons who have had a close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case
  2. Persons hospitalized with acute lower respiratory illness of unknown origin
  3. History of travel to or from an affected geographic area with widespread community transmission
  4. History of international travel or a cruise 
  5. ≥65 with chronic health conditions
  6. Immunocompromised persons

 

Expanded Criteria

If your patient does not meet the above criteria, testing may occur based on clinician’s judgement.

  1. The health care provider is responsible for specimen collection, handling and shipping. Please follow CDC guidance and use proper PPE.
  2. Collected specimens should be processed within your health care facility or a commercial laboratory (e.g., LabCorp and Quest).
  3. Follow CDC guidance for specimen collection, handling and shipping.

 

Testing

If an individual meets criteria for testing, wear appropriate PPE and initiate contact and airborne precautions.

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

Download a one-pager of the Clinical Screening Tool for Identifying Persons Under Investigation.

 

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

Infographic: Screening Facilities

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/