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COVID-19 having unexpected impact on some aspects of Tampa Bay area health care


TAMPA (WFLA) – As the coronavirus crisis has spread across the county, some hospitals staffs are working incredibly long hours to save patients and dealing with the widening impact of the virus.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital, a facility that’s been dealing with COVID-19 patients for weeks, has had to furlough some staff because of the drop off of elective surgeries and other procedures while some Tampa General Hospital Urgent Clinics have seen up to a 60 percent decline in patients.

“As people are not going out and getting injured, they’re not going out and getting sick, which is great. It’s great that people are heeding a lot the warnings we are putting out in terms of staying home and staying safe,” said Dr. Paul Nanda.

TGH has set up two of its urgent care clinics to deal specifically with COVID-19 cases.

“That way patients that are coming to any of our facilities can be screened at the door and those that meet screening criteria can be redirected to the testing facility,” said Dr. Nanda.

His urgent care clinic is also doing a number of things to protect patients, staff and doctors.

“As you walk in, you will be given a mask and asked to sanitize and since our volumes are so low, you can actually socially distance in the clinic. You can scoot away from other people who might me sick and all of our staff has protective equipment for themselves as well,” said Dr. Nanda.

Nurse practitioner Heather Greer works at the clinic and like everyone else there, she’s taking special measures to protect herself and her family when she goes home.

“I’m wearing eye protection when I go out. I have a pair of glasses that I wear, so it looks a little inconspicuous, less so than a big face shield and I have hand sanitizer in my car and I’m telling my family to do the same thing,” said Greer.

Greer is also practicing social distancing from some of her own family at this time to make sure the virus is not spread.

“I’m just going over the guidelines with all of my family and so far we are doing a lot of zoom dinners and meetings,” said Greer.

The TGH urgent care center says their safety measures for everyone start before the patient even walks in the door.

“We’ve tried to be very proactive instead of passive and take an active role in both serving our community and safeguarding our patients and our staff,” said Dr. Nanda.


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