COVID-19 Vaccine Information
Florida Launches Statewide Preregistration System for COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments
The state announced the launch of a statewide preregistration system to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments for individuals 65 and older and frontline health care workers. Individuals can pre-register for vaccine appointments and be notified when appointments are available in their area by visiting My Vaccine Florida.
This website will allow individuals who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to be proactively contacted when vaccine appointments are available at state-supported vaccination sites. On the site, residents can select their county and submit their contact information. Once appointments are available, individuals will be contacted by phone call, text or email and will be assisted in scheduling an appointment.
Vaccine supply remains limited and appointments may not be available for several weeks in some counties.
Additionally, as part of the statewide registration system, each county has a designated phone number that individuals can call and pre-register if they do not have Internet access. Please find the complete list of numbers by county here. Whether a resident calls by phone or visits My Vaccine Florida, their place in line will be reserved reliably using Sharecare software.
As outlined in Executive Order 20 – 315, individuals who are eligible for the vaccine in Florida are outlined below. If someone does not meet these eligibility requirements, they will not be able to pre-register.
• Long-term care facility residents and staff;
• Persons 65 years of age and older; and
• Health care personnel with direct patient contact.
Hospital providers, however, also may vaccinate persons who they deem to be extremely vulnerable to COVID-19.
On January 21, State Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees issued a Public Health Advisory prioritizing vaccine in Florida for Florida residents. Please find the public health advisory here. Please bring proof of residency to any appointment across the state.
Here are the websites to check for information about future COVID vaccine appointments:
Watch the Community Vaccine Update Q&A
Click here for an extensive list of FAQs.
Are Florida hospitals no longer be receiving first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine?
State officials have shared that they do not know what the state’s week-to-week allocations will be until it is communicated by federal authorities. Our focus at NCH at this time is getting dose-two completed for all those who had dose one. We will inform the community of any updates as to when we will receive more vaccine, as well as any official change to the parameters mandated by the state as to whom we can offer vaccine to.
Did NCH have to cancel any scheduled first dose vaccine appointments for patients?
NCH only got enough doses of the Moderna vaccine in our second allocation to vaccinate those who had already received their first dose shot at NCH. Consequently, no additional first dose appointments have been offered, so there were no appointments that needed to be canceled.
How does NCH plan to work with other vaccine distribution sites in Collier County?
NCH continues to communicate with DOH-Collier and others on a regular basis about vaccine availability for the community. Community members can visit our website for links to all local organizations we are aware of for more information on their vaccine availability.
Where does NCH stand in vaccinating its employees and staff?
We have administered first dose vaccine to approximately 2,900 staff and medical providers out of nearly 5,000 NCH employees. Of those, 757 have completed the two-dose series as of Monday, January 25, 2021.
Has everyone received their second doses and Is there enough vaccine available at the hospitals to get that done?
NCH continues to administer second doses of the Moderna vaccine with the latest allotment we obtained from the state on January 14, 2021 following the vaccine administration guidelines outlined in the Governor’s executive order. All 4,900 doses in our second vaccine allotment are reserved for just those 4,900 individuals who have already received their first Moderna vaccine at NCH.
Do I need to be a resident of Florida to receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes. Those seeking the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida will need to show proof of residency in order to get the initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
What is considered “Proof of Residency?”
1. An adult resident must provide a copy of his or her valid Florida driver license or a copy of a valid Florida identification card.
2. An adult seasonal resident who cannot meet the requirements of the above may provide a copy of two of the following that show proof of residential address:
a. A deed, mortgage, monthly mortgage statement, mortgage payment booklet or residential rental or lease agreement.
b. One proof of residential address from the seasonal resident’s parent, step-parent, legal guardian or other person with whom the seasonal resident resides and a statement from the person with whom the seasonal resident resides stating that the seasonal resident does reside with him or her.
c. A utility hookup or work order dated within 60 days.
d. A utility bill, not more than two months old.
e. Mail from a financial institution, including checking, savings, or investment account statements, not more than two months old.
f. Mail from a federal, state, county, or municipal government agency, not more than two months old.
g. Any other documentation that provides proof of residential address as determined by department rule.
Are you NOT A SENIOR OR HEALTHCARE WORKER?
– As the most at-risk groups, such as seniors and healthcare workers, get the vaccine and the vaccine itself becomes more widely available, members of the general public will be able to get the vaccine from familiar sources, such as your local pharmacy or primary care physician. Vaccine is predicted to be widely available to the general public starting in the spring and summer of 2021.
More information will be shared as it becomes available.
Who should be vaccinated against COVID-19 infection?
Vaccination will be recommended for everyone, but supplies will be limited at first. Federal and state authorities call for hospital workers, emergency responders and long-term care staff, and those 65 years and older to be vaccinated in the first phase of the state’s vaccine administration program.
NCH Healthcare System will follow the guidance provided by federal and state authorities to prioritize groups for vaccinations. The guidelines have been developed by numerous national bodies, including the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.
As availability improves, vaccines will be offered to all others in accordance to federal and state guidelines.
When will NCH start vaccinating people for COVID-19?
NCH received its initial allocation of 4,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine on December 23, 2020. All doses from that allotment have been used. NCH then received its second allocation of 4,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine on January 14, 2021. All of those doses in the second allocation will be used by those 4,900 individuals who received their initial COVID-19 vaccine at NCH. Recipients of the first dose of vaccine will be receiving an email in several days asking them to select the time of their appointment for their second vaccine shot. Second doses will be administered at the same location where recipients received their first vaccine shot.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccination?
The Moderna vaccine has been studied in over 30,000 people. Experimental vaccine data indicate 94.5% efficacy after two doses. Efficacy is the measure of effectiveness obtained from a randomized controlled clinical trial. Further details regarding the effectiveness of the vaccine, such as how long the vaccination offers protection, are not yet available.
How many doses does COVID-19 vaccination require?
The Moderna vaccine requires two doses are given 28 days apart. Individuals who start with one vaccine should be given the second dose of the same vaccine. Will I have a choice of which vaccine I will get? Given initial limited supplies, NCH will distribute the allocated vaccines received from the state. A choice of vaccines may not be possible.
How long will a COVID-19 vaccination offer protection?
It is not yet known how long COVID-19 vaccination will offer protection. Periodic boosters, such as with the annual flu shot, may or may not be needed.
Aren't masking, social distancing and self-quarantining reasonable alternatives to COVID-19 vaccination?
Given the extent of COVID-19 spread in the U.S., masking, social distancing and self-quarantining has not been enough to contain the pandemic nor have these public health measures been fully followed. Developing large-scale immunity in the community through vaccination is key to stopping the pandemic.
Everyone will need to continue to take precautions, such as masking and physical distancing, until the spread has stopped. Until then, COVID-19 spread can continue in the community from people who have or don't have symptoms.
A person can be contagious for as many as 14 days without symptoms. A person can develop symptoms but be contagious before symptoms start. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others, beginning two days before symptoms develop and up to 10 days after becoming sick.
Will my primary provider offer vaccination for COVID-19?
Your primary care provider will not offer vaccination for COVID-19 at this time. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available in a phased approach. The vaccination may be available to NCH primary care patients at some point in the future.
Can those who have had COVID-19 get vaccinated for COVID-19?
Yes. NCH recommends getting vaccinated for COVID-19, even in those who have had COVID-19 previously. However, those that had COVID-19 should delay vaccination until about 90 days from diagnosis, when antibody protection wanes. People should not get vaccinated if in quarantine after exposure or if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I got the flu vaccine?
Yes. NCH recommends all patients get the flu vaccine as well as the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
Will persons who get the vaccine still have to wear a face mask?
Yes. While the vaccine is highly effective at preventing symptomatic and severe disease, it is not 100% effective, and it is not yet known how well it prevents asymptomatic infection, or how long its effects will last. Since it is possible that a person vaccinated could get COVID-19 they could still spread the virus to another person. Everyone will need to continue taking precautions like masking and physical distancing until the spread has stopped.
I’ve heard that the COVID-19 vaccine is a live virus and many older people … the most vulnerable … are hesitant to get the vaccine because it could make them sick. Is that true?
There are many COVID-19 vaccines in development. The first vaccines NCH will receive are not live virus vaccines. Some of the COVID-19 vaccines under development are live but others are not.
Can a previously healthy older person get sick with COVID-19 after taking the vaccine? Do the benefits outweigh the risks in this population?
The vaccines are not 100% effective, but they are far better than not getting vaccine. The benefits certainly outweigh the risks in healthy older persons. One cannot get COVID-19 infection from the initial COVID-19 vaccines NCH will receive as they are inactivated vaccines and not live vaccines.
Can people with an egg allergy receive the COVID-19 vaccine?
Neither the Pfizer/BioNTech nor the Moderna Inc. vaccine contain egg. The side effects for the COVID-19 vaccine are identical to the virus itself.
If people are vaccinated and develop side effects or symptoms, would they have to be tested for COVID-19?
Vaccine recipients will be provided with guidance on how to interpret side effects and symptoms, and what actions they should take following vaccination.
What are vaccines?
A vaccine stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first. This is what makes vaccines such powerful medicine. Unlike most medicines, which treat or cure diseases, vaccines prevent them.
What diseases can vaccine protect against?
Thanks to vaccines, children and adults are protected from numerous diseases like Chickenpox, Hepatitis, Mumps, Diphtheria, Polio, Varicella (Zoster), Pneumococcal Pneumonia, and the Flu, and we eliminated Smallpox totally.
Are vaccines safe?
Making sure vaccines are safe is a priority. The CDC and FDA take many steps to make sure vaccines are very safe, both before and after the public begins using the vaccine. The COVID vaccines NCH will likely receive have been studied in over 30,000 test patients each and found to be safe. Like any medicine, vaccines can cause side effects such as a low-grade fever, or pain and redness at injection site. Mild reactions go away within a few days on their own.
How to a find a schedule for vaccines recommendations for children and adults?
Due to the COVID pandemic, there is a large number of children and adults who have missed their recommended vaccines. For a schedule of recommended childhood vaccinations (birth-18 years), visit 2021 Recommended Vaccinations for Infants and Children.
Click here for an adult vaccination schedule.
Is the annual Flu Vaccine still recommended?
Yes, seasonal Influenza vaccination is recommended for all people 6 months and older every year. If you have questions about which vaccine is best for your family, talk to your doctor or other health care professional. More information on approved flu vaccines for the 2020-2021 flu season, and age indications for each vaccine, visit the CDC website.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine made differently than the Flu vaccine?
In the past, vaccines have utilized weakened versions of a virus or specific pieces of a virus to stimulate immunity. In these vaccines, the virus has been manipulated to stimulate the immune system -- but it has been altered to ensure it does not make the patient sick. There are some COVID-19 vaccines under development that follow this method of providing immunity to disease.
There is another method being researched by leading Pharmaceutical companies that uses messenger RNA or mRNA methods to provide COVID-19 disease immunity.
Both vaccines use a synthetic mRNA, a molecule that tells cells how to build proteins. With it, cells are tricked into producing proteins usually found in SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and stimulate the immune system, without making patients sick, to provide protection against infection.
The mRNA vaccines seem very hopeful and highly effective. The mRNA are also very quick and easy to produce. Where other types of vaccines take weeks of lab work, mRNA molecules can be assembled and placed in a vaccine within days.
The companies that have developed the COVID-19 vaccines will work with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to seek emergency use authorization approval to distribute the vaccines.
What is Emergency Use Authorization?
An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) is a mechanism to make medical products available for use, during public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic. Under an EUA, FDA may allow the use of previously unapproved medical products, vaccines, diagnostic tests, or medications to treat life-threatening diseases or conditions when there are no adequate, approved and available alternatives.
Once submitted, FDA evaluates an EUA request, taking into account the totality of the scientific evidence about the product that is available to FDA.
Are the COVID-19 vaccines rigorously tested?
Yes. Clinical trials are evaluating investigational COVID-19 vaccines in over 30,000 study participants to generate the scientific data and other information needed by FDA to determine safety and effectiveness. These clinical trials are being conducted according to the rigorous standards set forth by the FDA. For more information on the COVID vaccine and the FDA’s EUA process, please click here.
What are the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine?
The current vaccines that are near ready to seek EUA require two doses about a month apart. Some of the reported side effects include pain at the injection site, fatigue, muscle aches, and headache. In general, vaccine side effects are short lived and far less serious than the disease it provides protection against.
Will NCH employees be required to take the vaccine? What about the seasonal workers?
The vaccine is not being required at this time, though it is strongly recommended for all healthcare workers for their protection, and the protection of NCH patients.
As we receive the vaccine allocation, the administration of the vaccine will be prioritized by healthcare worker COVID-19 risk level as recommended by the CDC and FL Department of Health.
Healthcare workers who have the most frequent and longest exposure to COVID-19 will be vaccinated first.
All employees will be still be required to follow PPE protocols.
Eventually, like the Flu Vaccine, a COVID-19 vaccine may be required for all staff.
How soon can I expect to have a COVID-19 vaccine for my children and family?
It is anticipated that vaccines will be distributed according to the Federal guidelines and be widely available for those not in the highest risk categories in mid 2021.
Vaccine Myths Debunked
As COVID-19 vaccines begin to roll out to the general population, some have questions and there also are some wild theories about their safety. This article addresses 8 vaccine myths.
Vaccines are perhaps the best hope for ending the COVID-19 pandemic. Two pharmaceutical companies have applied for Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for new COVID-19 vaccines, and a limited number of vaccines will be available before the end of the year.
It is likely that you have heard claims about COVID-19 vaccines on social media or from the people in your life. Also, the rapid development and approval of these vaccines may make you hesitant about their safety or effectiveness.
Let’s set the record straight on some of the myths circulating about COVID-19 vaccines:
MYTH: COVID-19 VACCINES ARE NOT SAFE BECAUSE THEY WERE DEVELOPED AND TESTED QUICKLY.
Many pharmaceutical companies have invested significant resources into developing COVID-19 vaccines quickly because of the worldwide effects of the pandemic. This emergency situation warranted an emergency response. That does not mean the companies bypassed safety protocols or performed inadequate testing.
Mayo Clinic will recommend the use of those vaccines that Mayo is confident are safe. While there are many COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development, early data are encouraging for the Pfizer vaccine, which likely is to be the first authorized for emergency use by the FDA. This vaccine was created using new technology based on the molecular structure of the virus that allows it to be free from materials of animal origin and synthesized by an efficient, cell-free process without preservatives. This vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTecH has been studied in approximately 43,000 people.
To receive emergency use authorization, biopharmaceutical manufacturers must have followed at least half of the participants in their vaccine trials for at least two months after completing the vaccination series, and the vaccine must be proven safe and effective in that population.
In addition to the safety review by the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization has convened a panel of vaccine safety experts to independently evaluate the safety data from the clinical trial. Mayo Clinic vaccine experts also will review the available data. The safety of COVID-19 vaccine will continue to be closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA.
MYTH: I ALREADY HAD COVID-19 AND I HAVE RECOVERED, SO I DON’T NEED TO GET VACCINATED FOR COVID-19.
There is not enough information currently available to say if or for how long after infection someone is protected from getting COVID-19 again. This is called natural immunity. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last long, but more studies are needed to better understand this.
Mayo Clinic recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’ve had COVID-19 previously. However, those who have had COVID-19 should delay vaccination until about 90 days from diagnosis. People should not get vaccinated if in quarantine after exposure or if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
MYTH: COVID-19 VACCINES HAVE SEVERE SIDE EFFECTS.
COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to have short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that resolve without complication or injury.
Early-phase studies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine show that it is safe. About 15% of people developed short-lived symptoms at the site of the injection. Half developed systemic reactions, primarily headache, chills, fatigue, muscle pain, or fever lasting for a day or two.
Keep in mind that these side effects indicate that your immune system is responding to the vaccine. These side effects are common with vaccinations.
MYTH: MORE PEOPLE WILL DIE AS A RESULT OF A NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECT TO THE COVID-19 VACCINE THAN WOULD DIE FROM THE VIRUS.
A claim circulating on social media is that the COVID-19 mortality rate is 1%–2% and that people should not be vaccinated against a virus with a survival rate that high. However, a 1% mortality rate is 10 times more lethal than the seasonal flu. In addition, the mortality rate can vary widely based on age, sex and underlying health conditions.
In contrast, clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines have shown only short-term mild or moderate vaccine reactions that resolve without complication or injury.
While some people who receive the vaccine may develop symptoms as their immune system responds, this is common when receiving any vaccine, and these symptoms are not considered serious or life-threatening. And you cannot become infected with COVID-19 from COVID-19 vaccines. These are inactivated vaccines ― not live-virus vaccines.
It’s important to recognize that getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is not just about survival from COVID-19. It’s about preventing spread of the virus to others and preventing infection that can lead to long-term negative health effects.
While no vaccine is 100% effective, getting vaccinated is far better than not getting vaccinated. The benefits outweigh the risks in healthy people.
MYTH: I WON’T NEED TO WEAR A MASK AFTER I GET VACCINATED FOR COVID-19.
It may take time for everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccination to get one. Also, while the vaccine may prevent you from getting sick, it is unknown whether you can still carry and transmit the virus to others after vaccination.
Until more is understood about how well the vaccine works, continuing with precautions such as wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing and washing hands frequently will be important.
MYTH: COVID-19 VACCINES WERE DEVELOPED TO CONTROL THE POPULATION THROUGH “MICROCHIP” TRACKING OR “NANOTRANSDUCERS” IN THE HUMAN BRAIN.
There is no vaccine “microchip,” and the vaccine will not track people or gather personal information into a database.
This myth started after comments made by Bill Gates from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation about a digital certificate of vaccine records. The technology he was referencing is not a microchip, has not been implemented in any manner, and is not tied to the development, testing or distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Learn more.
MYTH: COVID-19 VACCINES WILL ALTER MY DNA.
The first COVID-19 vaccines to reach the market are likely to be messenger RNA, or mRNA, vaccines. Messenger RNA vaccines work by instructing cells in the body how to make a protein that triggers an immune response, according to the CDC.
Injecting messenger RNA into your body will not interact or do anything to the DNA of your cells. Human cells break down and get rid of the messenger RNA soon after they have finished using the instructions. Learn more.
MYTH: COVID-19 VACCINES WERE DEVELOPED USING FETAL TISSUE.
These messenger RNA COVID-19 vaccines were not created with and do not require the use of fetal cell cultures in the production process.
DAILY COVID-19 UPDATE: Friday, March 5, 2021
NCH also wants to remind the public that if you are sick, please feel confident you can safely come to any of our facilities. Don’t wait. We don’t want patients to experience an unnecessary personal health crisis. To date, and after thousands of COVID-positive patient interactions by staff and over 50,000 tests administered, only two (2( employees has ever tested positive from workplace exposure, and those employees fully recovered and returned to work. Because of our diligent process to keep our team and our patients safe throughout the pandemic, there has only been 1 patient to patient COVID-19 exposure at NCH.
Friday, March 5, 2021: DAILY COVID-19 UPDATE
NCH has sent a total of 66,161 specimens for testing. The COVID-19 positivity rate for the last 7 days at NCH stands at 4.5% while the 14-day rate for Collier County is at 6.01%.
NCH is currently treating 37 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19. That is 3 less than we reported in our update yesterday.
NCH discharged 5 patients yesterday for a total of 2,247 COVID-19 inpatients discharged since the onset of the pandemic.
There has been a total of 35 COVID-19 positive pediatric patients admitted to NCH since the onset of the pandemic. NCH admitted 1 pediatric COVID-19 positive patient since our last update on March 4.
NCH has 0 employees quarantined due to workplace exposure.
3 employee has tested positive for COVID-19 and remain isolated due to family or community related exposure.
The number of individuals who have passed away at an NCH facility due to COVID-19 stands at 150 since the onset of the pandemic. Our thoughts and prayers go out to friends and families of these individuals.
NCH Healthcare System COVID-19 Hospital Visitation Policy
In light of the recent decline in COVID hospitalizations, NCH is happy to announce that visitor hours at both NCH Baker and NCH North Naples Hospitals will be expanded for the convenience of our patients and their loved ones starting Wednesday, March 3, 2021.
Visiting hours will now begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. daily. Additionally, patients may now have two visitors at a time for general and critical care areas.
Visitation plans are developed in consideration of patient, staff, and public safety but also to meet the emotional and care needs of patients. NCH Healthcare System continues to collaborate with and follow the guidance of local, state, and government officials and will continue to review COVID-19 rates on an ongoing basis to determine the need for ongoing restricted visitation.
The following visitation guidelines remain in place:
- All visitors to the hospital must practice social distancing and will be required to complete a screening process and sanitize their hands with alcohol-based gel before visitation.
- No visitation is allowed for anyone who has respiratory symptoms including coughing,
runny nose, fever, congestion, shortness of breath or chest pain with inspiration.
- Individuals who are ill, have fever, or have been exposed to COVID-19 should refrain from visiting.
- All visitors are required to wear a hospital supplied face mask at all times while on the campus. Visitors who violate this policy may be asked to leave the facility.
- To reduce the risk of spreading a contagious disease, COVID-19 patients or patients requiring airborne precautions are restricted to compassionate care visitation only.
- General visitation is limited to two (2) visitors per patient at a time.
- Visitation is limited to the patient’s room.
- Common gathering rooms such as family rooms and surgical waiting areas are not available at this time.
- Visitors are not allowed in the cafeteria.
- No visitors under the age of 12.
- One visitor will be allowed to be with the patient during the initial evaluation only.
- Exceptions may be made based on the acuity of the patient at the discretion of the physician/nursing staff. This includes:
- Parents with children
- End of life decision making/critically ill discussions
- Special needs populations
Birthplace and NICU
- Exceptions may be allowed for compassionate care visitation and for participation in ICU rounding at the discretion of the intensivist/nursing staff.
- OB Triage is limited to one visitor
- One support person is allowed in Labor and Delivery, Mother/Baby, and the Antepartum units.
- One support person may spend the night with maternity patients after delivery or on the Antepartum unit.
Ambulatory Procedure/Ambulatory Surgery
- Each patient will be allowed two (2) designated visitors noted upon admission (over 18 years of age) can be with the patient, in their room, at all times. This also includes the Sedation, Outpatient Pediatric Oncology and the Pediatric Perianesthesia areas.
- One visitor to accompany adult patients for any appointment registration process
- Visitors accompanying patients for outpatient surgery must wait outside after registration process is complete.
- Visitor will be permitted to reunite with patient when ready for discharge. Discharge instructions can be shared with patient and visitor.
- Pediatrics: One parent may stay with their child above 12 years of age
Visitation to patients known or suspected COVID-19 should be restricted. Alternative mechanisms
for patient and visitor interactions, such as video-call applications on cell phones should be considered.
Consider visitation exceptions based on end-of-life situations or when a visitor is essential for the
patient’s emotional well-being and care.
In this instance, visitors should observe the following prior to entering any patients room: the family member should wash their hands thoroughly either with water or sanitizer gel, allow them to dry then be masked (N-95) gowned and gloved along with face shield to visit
their loved one in the hospital.
COVID Test Site Information
For those in the community desiring a COVID test, please visit the Florida Department of Health link for locations and hours: DOH-Collier COVID-19 Testing Information | Florida Department of Health in Collier (floridahealth.gov)
There have been many questions surrounding bed capacity at NCH and we want to assure the community that our hospitals are prepared in that regard. Under normal, typical operations, NCH has 715 total beds available with 48 of those being designated as critical care beds. However, in the event that NCH had to enact its emergency COVID surge plans, we have the capability of expanding to 1000 total adult beds with 143 of those being designated as critical care.
It is important to continue to be diligent with wearing a mask. We have seen the results at our healthcare system when we follow the proper process and continue to social distance, wear our PPE and wash our hands. Please encourage your fellow community members to follow these practices and continue to be diligent to help avoid the spread of this virus.
Community members can call their primary care physician to schedule COVID-19 testing or call the Florida Department of Health in Collier County, 7 days a week from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., to learn about other local testing sites. Their phone number is 239-252-6220. For the most recent list of testing sites, please click HERE.
NCH recognizes national and state guidance in regard to performing elective surgeries while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. We also have processes in place for urgent or emergent procedures as well. We will continually evaluate whether Collier County remains a low risk of incidence and will be prepared to cease non-essential procedures if there is a significant surge. Patients are segregated into COVID-19 care and Non-COVID-care (NCC) units and our workforce will avoid working in both COVID-19 and NCC units simultaneously. NCH will monitor supplies and resources regularly to care for COVID-19 and non-COVID patients.
A proactive approach to scheduling elective cases has been adopted, which will allow for stratification and testing of higher risk patients. Screening for possible COVID-19 infections is a continuous process that starts at the office visit with the surgeon or proceduralist. Last minute scheduling requests will not be honored in order to adequately screen all patients. PPE will be worn by all staff and physicians conducting the surgeries.
Patients with any symptoms will have their elective procedure postponed until consultation with their provider for possible COVID-19 testing. The surgeon/proceduralist will assess the patient’s ability and willingness to self-isolate to avoid infection before the scheduled procedure. When indicated COVID-19 PCR testing should be arranged such that the patient is tested 3-5 days in advance of the procedure to allow results to post. Again, NCH has other processes in place for urgent or emergent procedures so that those patients can be seen immediately if there is a threat to life or limb.
DRIVE-THRU TESTING AVAILABLE IN FORT MYERS
The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) is sponsoring Drive-Thru Testing (no order needed) at the CenturyLink Sports Complex (4100 Ben C. Pratt/Six-Mile Cypress Parkway) in Fort Myers. Testing is available everyday, from 9am - 5pm and individuals over the age of 18 can be tested regardless of symptoms. For more information, please visit floridadisaster.org.
Telehealth: NCH has partnered with AmericanWell (Amwell) to provide Virtual Care services to the community. Those who would like to check in with a provider any time of the day or night are able to log on to a visit. Providers will escalate the virtual care to one of our Immediate Care locations if additional services are needed.
Virtual Care is able to help with ailments such as:
- Back Strains
- Cold Sores
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
- Common Cold
- Influenza (Flu)
- Minor Burns
- Sinus Infections
- Stomach Flu
- Upper Respiratory Illness
- Yeast Infections
The AmericanWell providers can also screen patients for symptoms of COVID-19 and will refer those who may need testing for this virus to NCH Immediate Care. Patients who need Immediate Care services are able to gain access to care 7 days per week and are encouraged to save their place in line, avoiding long waits in our lobby areas, through our “wait at home” queue.
Telemedicine: NCH Physician Group has contracted with SecureVideo to extend virtual provider visit invitations. These telemedicine visits are documented in Cerner and are considered the same as an office visit during the COVID emergency. In an effort to continue to care for our patients, and acknowledging efforts to social distance, providers are evaluating the needs of the patient to have as much care as possible completed remotely.
More Telehealth/Telemedicine Information:
NCH Virtual Appointment Guide - Text (SMS) Invitation