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What You Need to know About Going to the Hospital

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=== UPDATE 6/29/2020 ===

Oak Hill Hospital Announces New Temporary Visitor Policy EFFECTIVE June 30


Brooksville, Florida –  (June 29, 2020) – Oak Hill Hospital is implementing a new visitor policy on Tuesday, June 30, 2020,  as a result of the increase in the community spread of COVID-19 in Hernando County.  No visitors will be permitted for admitted inpatients to help ensure the safety of our patients and caregivers (limited exceptions noted below). The policy is as follows:

Temporary Visitor Policy (June 30, 2020)

In order to protect our patients, visitors, physicians, and caregivers from the spread of the coronavirus (COVID)

·       Inpatient Units – No visitors are permitted.

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Exceptions must be approved by the hospital Administrator on Call (AOC) or administration and can be made for:

o   end-of-life situations (generally for patients in hospice care)

o   labor and delivery

§  one visitor is allowed

o   post-partum unit, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and pediatrics unit

§  one visitor is allowed and may stay overnight

o   behavioral health units

§  a patient’s attorney of record, a state of federal representative on official duty, and end-of-life situation visitors are allowed


·       Emergency Room – One visitor is allowed per patient in the ER.

Once a patient is admitted to the hospital, the visitor must leave as visitors are not allowed in inpatient areas.


·       Outpatient Procedures – One visitor is allowed per patient who is having an outpatient surgery or other outpatient procedure requiring sedation.

Visitor must remain in the designated waiting area. If the patient is admitted as an inpatient, the visitor must leave as visitors are not allowed in inpatient areas.


·       Anyone under the age of 18 will not be considered for visitation unless they are the parent of a hospitalized child.

All persons authorized to enter the hospital must wear a mask at all times, including in a patient’s room, and practice hand sanitization upon entering the hospital and upon entering and exiting a patient’s room. They will have their temperature taken, be screened for illness, and asked the following questions:

·       Have you had a fever and signs/symptoms of respiratory illness (cough, flu-like symptoms, or shortness of breath)?

·       Have you traveled outside the country within the last 14 days (including a cruise)?

·       Have you traveled by plane or train in the past 14 days?

·       Have you been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 without wearing the proper protective equipment?

·       Are you currently being tested for COVID-19?

If you answer positive (yes) to any of the above – we will not allow entrance to the facility unless seeking emergency medical assistance.

Patients may consider using phone, Skype, or FaceTime to communicate with family and friends during this time.

Oak Hill Hospital’s parent company, HCA Healthcare West Florida Division, has enacted this updated temporary policy in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties in response to the growth in the number of COVID-19 positive cases.


About Oak Hill Hospital:

Oak Hill Hospital has been serving the Nature Coast since 1984 and is the area’s largest private employer with 350 beds. It is the largest medical facility in Hernando and Citrus Counties and recently underwent a $38.5M expansion project which added 70 private rooms to its North Tower. The facility offers Hernando County’s only comprehensive cardiovascular program, including an arrhythmia center and open-heart surgery. Oak Hill Hospital’s healthcare delivery team is comprised of over 600 physicians, 1,500 associates, and over 265 volunteers.


Oak Hill Hospital is an accredited, statutory teaching hospital with approval to train 65 residents in the Internal Medicine residency program, 24 residents in the Family Medicine program, 18 residents in the General Surgery program integrated with Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, 18 residents in the Emergency Medicine program, 18 residents in the Anesthesiology program, 6 residents in the Podiatry program, 10 residents in the Transitional Year program, and two residents in the Geriatric Fellowship program.


The Maternity Suites at Oak Hill Hospital offers advanced labor and delivery capabilities in a comfortable and family centered setting and offers Level II NICU services. In addition to the Graduate Medical Education Program, Oak Hill Hospital offers several unique programs in the area, including a 24/7 Critical Care Medicine Program staffed by Intensivists, a Pediatric ER, and a dedicated Pediatric Inpatient Unit. Please visit our website for a comprehensive listing of all Oak Hill Hospital accreditations, awards, and distinctions.


The hospital is located at 11375 Cortez Boulevard, Brooksville, FL; 1.9 miles east of US 19 on State Road 50. For more information about this release, please contact Katie Stacy, Director of Public Relations & Communications, at 352-597-6317. For more information about Oak Hill Hospital, visit OakHillHospital.com, or Like Us on Facebook.





Oak Hill Hospital is open for business.  Here’s what you need to know.

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many changes for hospitals.  Elective procedures, previously canceled or postponed are now back on the schedule without restrictions.

Oak Hill’s CEO Mickey Smith reports that Emergency Room (ER) visits were down 60% at one point, with grim results.  Although there have been no restrictions on ER visits, patients have been avoiding necessary treatment due to fear, ostensibly due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Smith said that the number of patients presenting “dead on arrival” (DOA) has increased.  “People are afraid to come to the hospital… we’ve probably tripled the number of DOAs — people that used to come for chest pain are now coming when their heart’s stopped.”

If you’re delaying care for fear of going to the hospital, Smith says, “Don’t.  (The hospital) is the safest place you can be, and we’re seeing horrible situations — people we could have saved that waited too late.  Two things that we move heaven and earth to act on very quickly on are strokes and heart attacks.”  Two important organs that don’t heal are the brain and the heart. 

If you’re having symptoms of heart attack or stroke, do not delay treatment.  Call 911 immediately.  The hospital is the safest place for you to be.

Healthcare professionals are masters of infection control, employing universal precautions of gowns, gloves, and masks, coupled with rigorous handwashing.  These precautions are taken more seriously in the face of the pandemic but have been in place for decades. 

Furthermore, if you are experiencing such symptoms, an ambulance is your best choice. Rather than relying on private transportation from a family member or neighbor, Hernando County Fire / Rescue (HCFR) can start treatment immediately and continue en route to the hospital. They are also in direct contact with the hospital, so the ER is ready with continued treatment when you arrive.  Each ambulance is sanitized for approximately 40 minutes after each transport.    


What to Expect as a Visitor

Smith said, “We know how important it is for loved ones to be able to connect … Every inpatient is allowed one visitor, as well as each emergency room patient.”    While visiting the hospital, masks must be worn at all times.  This is to protect the patients.  Proper handwashing, social distancing, and the avoidance of touching ones’ face will help to prevent the spread of the virus. 

When you visit Oak Hill, you will be asked about symptoms, possible exposure to the novel coronavirus, and have your temperature checked.  Again, you will be required to wear a mask that is to cover your face and mouth at all times.   

When you check in to visit, you will trade your photo ID for a visitor pass.  When you turn in your visitor pass, you retrieve your ID.

Why should you wear a mask if you’re visiting someone who is in the hospital for non-respiratory illness, and you’re healthy?   For the same reason, the surgical team wears masks in the operating room (OR).  They don’t wear masks to protect themselves but to protect the patients upon whom they’re operating.  During surgery, the patient is at risk of infection.  The surgical team wears masks, as well as gloves and gowns to protect the patient from outside infection.  Rarely is the surgical team in need of protection from the patient.

Put simply by Katie Stacy, Oak Hill’s Director of Public Relations & Communications, “Protect your fellow humans.”


Visiting New Moms and Newborns

Labor and Delivery patients are allowed 2 visitors at any time before the baby is born.  Afterward, 2 visitors are allowed during regular visiting hours, 8:30 AM – 8:30 PM, and after hours, 1 person is allowed after visiting hours, even overnight.   No one under 18 is permitted to visit unless they are a parent of a hospitalized child. 

In the era of COVID-19, not often discussed are newborns and premature babies.  These newcomers to the world have practically no immune system so soon after birth.  Masks and other protective gear as required by the hospital are important to make sure these kids go home healthy.


What if you need to go to the hospital?


As a result of the pandemic, many people have lost their jobs, and subsequently, their health benefits.  Katie Stacy, Director of Public Relations & Communications advised that HCA (Hospital Corporation of America) has opened a free insurance helpline to help citizens with their options in receiving treatment.

Smith estimates that the number of people affected by losing health insurance has doubled within the county.  Oak Hill has financial consultants onsite to help those who are suddenly without health insurance navigate the system.  

Oak Hill also has a Consult-A-Nurse and Physician referral service.  That number is at the end of this article. 

If you have a life-threatening emergency, you will be treated.  Do not hesitate to call 911. 


Aren’t hospitals making a lot of money from this pandemic?

There has been controversy that hospitals are receiving extra financial benefits by ‘tacking on’ an extra COVID diagnosis, in the event of a death, regardless of the patient’s diagnosis.  To this, Smith said, “April (2020) was the first time I’ve ever had a hospital lose money.”  Smith went on to say, “We can’t label anything COVID without lab results.” 

According to Smith, federal dollars that Oak Hill received would allow the hospital to operate for 7-8 days.  “It didn’t touch the lost revenue (from the cessation of elective surgery and other non-essential services) or increase of expenses (required due to the pandemic response).  There isn’t a hospital in this country making money off the coronavirus.”

Hernando County has had 5 deaths due to COVID-19.   Two were at Oak Hill. 


Do you have further questions for Oak Hill Hospital administration?

Oak Hill has kindly offered to answer questions from the community.  You can email those questions to [email protected].


Oak Hill Hospital Consult-A-Nurse and Physician Referral:

Citrus:  352-628-6060

Hernando:  352-597-6333


Uninsured Patient Advisor Hotline: 833-541-5757

WHAT IS THIS?   We know that unemployment is rising in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacts. This is why HCA Healthcare has created a dedicated hotline for patients that may have recently lost their jobs (laid off or furloughed). The hotline provides personalized guidance to health coverage options, and can do the following:


• Evaluate eligibility for COBRA, Healthcare Marketplace/Exchange Plans, and/or Medicaid and  potential resources that may offset the cost of insurance premiums 

• Understand, complete and submit eligibility applications on the patient’s behalf (if desired)

• Follow up with county or state to complete eligibility process (if needed) 


WHO IS THIS FOR? This is a free service and is intended to help connect individuals that may be faced with health insurance coverage challenges due to unemployment. 

HOW CAN THEY HELP? This hotline is staffed by patient benefit advisors and can help patients with their individual situations to find their best coverage options. 

WHAT DO I NEED? If your patients have expressed concerns over their ability to pay for healthcare services based on their job status and health coverage, please encourage them to call. 

WHEN CAN I CALL? The service is offered Monday – Friday from 8AM to 6PM EST 

Website:  www.hcahealthcare.com/hotline

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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