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Collier hospitals safe for non-COVID related care

Posted at 7:26 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 19:26:38-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — COVID-19 numbers continue to climb across Florida. But, the leaders of NCH hospitals in Collier County say don’t let the numbers alarm you. They shared exactly what they’re doing to protect patients and you too, if you need to visit the doctor.

During a public webinar Thursday NCH’s decision makers broke down current and future plans regarding COVID-19.

CEO Paul Hiltz started by pointing out their germ-zapping robots.

“Xenex robots. Nine of them that kills the coronavirus in the room in between patients,” he said.

He also mentioned they’ve changed the pressure of the air where COVID positive patients are kept.

“In this case, we’re keeping all the germs, all of that inside the COVID unit,” said Hiltz.

Even though new case numbers are increasing some days, NCH says their intensive care numbers are leveling off with less than 40 patients in the ICU. They also say they’re fully equipped to handle a potential second wave.

Out of the 500 COVID-19 patients their employees have cared for, Hiltz says none have transferred the virus to non-positive patients.

But, when it comes to Immokalee, labeled a hot spot on the Florida Department of Health’s dashboard, isolating COVID-positive people isn’t as easy. So, NCH’s Chief Nursing officer Jon Kling says they’ve developed partnerships with local hotels to temporarily lodge some people with COVID-19 for free.

“If we can identify the positive people, we isolate and still care for them, then it protects those other family members in that same house,” he said.

NCH’s Chief Medical Officer Kristin Mascotti pointed out a global organization for taking the lead in testing and educating people living in Immokalee.

“Having Doctors without Borders who has significant experience dealing with this type of situation where we really have to develop trust with the individuals there. I think that is the best method,” said Mascotti.

NCH also has mandatory antibody testing for employees. They revealed in Thursday’s panel, only 43 out of 4,500 employees have the antibodies, and only one caught the virus and has since recovered. Another reason Hiltz says the public shouldn’t shy away from going to the doctor if they need to.

NCH is still offering virtual telemedicine for free. So, they say if you have a pressing medical concern, you can use that method before going to the hospital.