Baptist Health Announces Restrictions, Drops Price Of Telehealth As Coronavirus Spreads
Baptist Health is upping restrictions on visitors to its Northeast Florida hospitals and lowering the cost of telemedicine visits as more coronavirus cases are confirmed in Florida.
Baptist on Wednesday announced three new restrictions for hospital visitors:
- Visitors must be at least 12 years old
- Only two visitors can visit a patient at a time
- People with flu-like symptoms, including fever, cough or shortness of breath should not visit
Baptist Health also announced it’s lowering the cost of telemedicine visits through the Telescope Health app to $25. The app allows patients to see physicians online rather than in person.
Related: Local And State Coronavirus Coverage
“The biggest risk with COVID-19 is really person-to-person contact,” said Dr. Matthew Rill, CEO of Emergency Resources Group, which serves patients from Southeast Georgia to St. Augustine. “We're right in the middle of cold and flu season anyways. And for someone who has to go into an office or a hospital, they're automatically going to be exposed to quite a few people.”
For people who still need to take care of responsibilities like getting groceries or taking care of an errand, Baptist Health officials say staying at home is the best thing they can do.
“If there is somebody that can do it on their behalf, that would be the best scenario,” said Dr. Vincy Samuel,
the Director of Employee Health at Baptist Health.
Patients can also get information through the Telescope Health app, including how to take care of their animals, wash laundry, or work from home while self-quarantining.
If a person is feeling severe symptoms, including shortness of breath and fever, however, officials from Baptist said they should go to the emergency room as soon as possible.
A team at Baptist has been monitoring the spread of COVID-19 since January.
“We prepare for this sort of thing all-year around, we don’t just wait until these things happen,” said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, an infectious disease specialist at Baptist Health.
Rathore also said it’s essential to stay up to date on the latest news on the virus.
“Just remember, as soon as we’re done speaking, it has probably changed,” Rathore said. “It’s a very dynamic situation. So I want to caution everybody that what you hear today about COVID-19, you do not take that as gospel truth.”
Florida Department of Health at Duval County spokeswoman Samantha Epstein said commercial testing for COVID-19 is now available. Health care providers can order COVID-19 testing through laboratories like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp.
If a test is deemed necessary, it won’t cost anything more for the patient, according to Rathore.
Tuesday night, The Florida Department of Health announced eight more positive cases, including a 68-year-old Nassau County man. Another is a 68-year old Georgia woman in Alachua County. Three more of the new cases are in Collier County, two are in Pinellas County, and one is in Pasco County.
A presumptive positive case was also announced by the Georgia Department of Public Health in Camden County, just north of Nassau County, and a second patient there is awaiting test results.