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Lee Health, NCH encourage continued safety protocols

By Staff | Jun 3, 2020

As Southwest Florida reopens public spaces and activities, the Southwest Florida region’s healthcare leaders Lee Health and NCH Healthcare System (NCH) continue to work together on regional efforts to combat the challenges and effects presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the nonprofit organizations have been leading the “SWFL Stronger Together” campaign to combat COVID-19 regionally while encouraging community support of frontline heroes through safety compliance and donations.

On May 21, Lee Health and NCH announced the next phase of their collaboration with the campaign, reflective of the region’s transition to safely reopen after flattening the curve on the coronavirus pandemic. They are asking the Southwest Florida community to join them in taking continued safety precautions, returning to best, most effective health care practices, and continuing to provide support through donations.

“We are your healthcare leaders and we want to continue to be your first resource for information and prevention. We are here for you,” NCH Chief Executive Officer Paul Hiltz said. “As we navigate further into these unprecedented times, we must adapt to a new normal. Shops, beaches and restaurants are all opening up. However, we must continue to follow the guidelines shared by the CDC to continue to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. So, as you begin to ease into public spaces, please be mindful of your surroundings and continue to practice all safety protocols.”

Amongst such protocols, the healthcare systems stress continued practices of safe physical distancing by remaining at least 6 feet apart, wearing face masks out in public to help keep everyone healthy and safe, and washing hands multiple times throughout the day for at least 20 seconds each time as a best defense. They also urge community members to return to their normal healthcare practices, not to delay seeking medical help with concerns or further delaying routine checkups.

“Thanks to you and all your hard work, we’ve flattened the curve on the coronavirus pandemic and now we’re on to the next phase,” Lee Health President Dr. Larry Antonucci said. “And because of all the precautions our systems have taken, we are in an excellent position to provide top-of-the-line patient care to the Southwest Florida community. Our hospitals and healthcare systems are fully operational and safely serving our community. We have plenty of personal protective equipment and we are prepared for emergencies, surgeries, physician visits, lab draws, x-rays and much more.”

There is still a need for support from the community. Monetary gifts through the campaign help to maintain reserve supplies of personal protective equipment for employees, patients and visitors, as well as other necessary equipment to continue the fight through testing and diagnostics. In-kind donations such as giving blood, homemade masks and meals continue to provide relief and boost the morale of local healthcare heroes.

In taking the next steps forward in the fight against the coronavirus, both healthcare systems have begun serology testing, which shows the presence of COVID-19 antibodies in a patient’s blood and helps to understand how the virus has spread in the region. Serology testing requires an order from your physician, and the tests can be drawn in physician offices or at Lee Health and NCH Labs.

The health systems are also looking for people to donate blood for the Mayo Clinic COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Study. If you have (or someone you know has) previously tested positive for COVID-19, your symptoms resolved, and you later tested negative for the virus, consider donating blood. Your plasma may contain antibodies that may help someone fighting COVID-19 recover faster.

For more information or to make an online donation, visit SWFLtogether.org.