- Fort Walton Beach Medical Center has protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases and we are prepared for potential issues related to COVID-19. As part of HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare, we are uniquely positioned to leverage our resources to provide support and solutions to our patients, colleagues and communities to meet the demands of this rapidly evolving situation.
- Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and Destin ER are safe places to seek care, no matter what your health need. Since well before the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, our facilities have taken measures to create a safe environment. Now, as ever, we have strong protocols in place and are following all guidelines set forth by the CDC. The safety of our patients is and always has been our first priority and we will continue to provide safe, effective, patient-centered care.
- Our facilities began procuring additional personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gowns, face shields, N-95 respirators and linens months ago. Colleagues responsible for care have been provided training on the safe, effective and responsible use of PPE. Our hospitals have prioritized negative pressure rooms equipped to handle patients with airborne and droplet precautions consistent with CDC guidelines.
- Fort Walton Beach Medical Center partners with experts in the field of hospital cleanliness for our environmental service needs. We stay ahead of the COVID-19 curve, ensuring that all our facilities are disinfected and environmentally safe for all patients, visitors and staff members. Our housekeeping staff are fully trained on the proper use of PPE to ensure that nothing is transmitted throughout the hospital during the cleaning process. We perform daily cleaning and disinfection of all high-touch surfaces in all rooms. Once a patient is discharged from that room, a terminal clean is performed. These cleaning steps are in compliance with the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control.
- Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and its facilities continually monitor emergency preparedness and surge plans to meet potential need. We continue to work in partnership with county health departments, the Florida Department of Health and the CDC for the health and safety of all those we serve. Our staff of exceptional physicians and experienced nurses continue to care for every type of medical need in our community, including potential or positive COVID-19 cases. We don't panic, we prepare.
- Visitors and patients are encouraged to check the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center website before they visit, as visiting hours and the number of visitors allowed may change.
- No Visitor Policy In Effect -- In this time of heightened awareness of COVID-19 exposure, we have restricted our visitor policy. No visitors will be at allowed at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, or our freestanding Destin ER. There are exceptions allowed pending visitors have a negative screen for COVID-19. Exceptions include:
- One (1), adult visitor, 18 years or older, per patient who is at or approaching "end of life" status
- One (1), adult visitor, 18 years or older, per patient who is living with a mental disability
- One (1), adult visitor, 18 years or older, per patient who is elderly and has associated safety needs
- One (1), adult visitor, 18 years or older, per surgical patient
- One (1), adult visitor, 18 years or older, per emergency department patient
- *If you are having a medical emergency, please proceed to our Emergency Department for care.
- Patients and visitors are being directed to use specific entrances to enable screening of everyone who enters the hospital.
- Hospitals have positioned supplies at all points of entry, so that any potential symptomatic patient who arrives can be properly masked and immediately isolated to protect our colleagues and other patients.
- We encourage loved ones to consider using technology - like FaceTime and other apps - to keep in close contact with patients while they are in the hospital instead of visiting in person.
Protecting our colleagues today and tomorrow
- Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and all HCA Healthcare hospitals, are doing everything they can to equip their patient care teams to provide safe, effective care to the people we serve, unwavering in our dedication despite the unique challenges presented by COVID-19. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our goal has been to protect our frontline clinicians and caregivers so they are able to continue to care for our patients and community. The pandemic has strained the worldwide supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, face shields, and gowns, a challenge that is not unique to our hospitals or any other hospital or health system in the United States. While our HCA Healthcare hospitals are doing everything in our power to secure additional supplies, and we are following CDC protocols for using and conserving PPE, the worldwide shortage is a reality that we are addressing with realistic, workable solutions. The steps we have taken include:
- Enacting universal masking for all of our employees; all staff and providers in all patient care areas wear masks; there are three types of masks deployed, depending on the clinical role, the type of care the patient is receiving, and the level of suspicion for infection with COVID
- Appointing a PPE Steward to oversee priority deployment of PPE effective for COVID-19 where and when it is needed most
- Creating strategically located PPE distribution centers across our campus to quickly deliver equipment
- We also have taken steps to help protect the financial security of our front-line caregivers and their support colleagues, including a "pandemic pay continuation" policy even as other health care systems have announced layoffs. For colleagues with reduced hours, the company will seek to redeploy them to other opportunities so they can continue working. Those who cannot be redeployed will continue to receive 70 percent of base pay for up to seven weeks. For colleagues working in patient care facilities who are quarantined per CDC guidelines, we will pay 100 percent of base pay for scheduled hours regardless of where the exposure took place.
- In addition, we will offer scrub laundering for colleagues who care for COVID-19 patients. In addition, we are working with major hotel chains to provide housing for caregivers who provide care to COVID-19 patients and prefer not to go home to their loved ones after their shift. The COVID-19 pandemic is unique, and our colleagues' concerns are real; we're here to support them as the care for our community.
- All Fort Walton Beach Medical Center colleagues are monitoring their health and have attested to follow the HCA Healthcare policy on Communicable Disease Preparation which attests that colleagues that report to work, by entering the facility, attest that they do not have symptoms of a contagious illness.
- For the safety and security of our patients, caregivers, and volunteers, we are placing a hold on volunteer assignments across Fort Walton Beach Medical Center.
We all can play a part in protecting our own health as well as the health of family members, vital healthcare providers and the community by remembering to practice good hygiene, including these measures:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue
- Practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands often, using either soap and water or alcohol-based hand gel for at least 20 seconds
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Avoid large crowds and practice social distancing
- Check the CDC website for updated information
HIPAA and patient condition updates
As caregivers, we have a responsibility to protect patient and colleague privacy and are bound by HIPAA regulations regarding the use and disclosure of Protected Health Information (PHI).