Hospital visitors in Manatee County worried seeing staff members with no masks

Coronavirus

MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) — Hospitals across Tampa Bay have started allowing visitors back into their facilities in the last few weeks.

Manatee Memorial Hospital is allowing one visitor per patient from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

According to the hospital’s website, visitors are required to enter through the main entrance of the hospital, use antibacterial foam, receive a temperature check and answer a screening questionnaire.

The visitor is also required to wear a mask upon entry and keep it on at all times while at the hospital. If the visitor doesn’t have a mask, the hospital will provide one for them.

There has been concern among some visitors about the protocol in place at the hospital as some visitors claim there are some staff members at the hospital who are not wearing face masks.

Lakesha Williams visited her mother in the hospital’s intensive care unit Monday afternoon. She tells 8 On Your Side she was shocked by what she saw.

“Just walking through the hall to my mom’s room, I seen at least 20 people without gloves or without masks on just walking through the hospital,” said Williams.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Florida, Williams says she’s concerned about the virus spreading inside the hospital. She wants answers as to why hospital staff are walking around without face masks on, even in the ICU. Williams says she was required to wear a mask, gloves, and other PPE while visiting with her mother.

“What makes you guys qualified walk in here without anything because you guys leave here and come to work just like we do,” said Williams. “When you leave this job, we have no idea what you are doing, we don’t know who you’re coming into contact with, and you are taking that and bring it back here,” she continued.

8 On Your Side told the hospital that visitors are concerned about the protocol in place and asked the hospital if it is looking at changing its policy in any way. We did not receive a response to any policy changes, but Manatee Memorial Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer and spokesperson Kevin DiLallo told 8 On Your Side “face masks are required to enter the facility.”

“I think the staff should be wearing masks just like everybody else, especially if they are dealing with different patients,” said visitor Colleen Wiggs.

8 On Your Side contacted other area hospitals to find out more about their mask policies.

A Sarasota Memorial Hospital spokesperson says masks are not optional at their facility.

“Everyone in our facility must wear a mask while in public and patient care areas as well as break rooms or other rooms where more than 10 people are gathered and cannot maintain 6 feet of physical distance. Staff and patients must wear hospital-issued masks. We also provide them to visitors upon entry but they are allowed to wear a cloth homemade mask. Just not a scarf or bandanna,” said the hospital spokesperson. Guidelines are posted on the hospital’s website.

At Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, a spokesperson says “all visitors, staff, physicians, and patients must wear a hospital provided mask. We have a “universal” mask policy. It’s is not optional. You can not wear your own cloth mask.”

A Lakewood Ranch Medical Center spokesperson sent us this response in regard to the hospital’s mask policy. “LWRMC provides masks for all guests who enter the hospital as well as staff. We are all encouraged as staff members to wear a mask at the hospital.” For the latest updates on the hospital’s policies, click here.

For the latest information on COVID-19 precautions at Manatee Memorial Hospital, click here.

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