By Christine Davis
Tenet Palm Beach Health Network’s Palm Beach hospitals resumed elective care on May 4, as the state lifted the relevant executive order related to the coronavirus. “Many patients have postponed medical care or are in need of treating new symptoms. Our health system is ready to safely provide this care to our community again,” says Tenet Palm Beach Health Network CEO Maggie Gill. “The Palm Beach Health Network is committed to the universal protection and safety of our patients, physicians and staff.
“We have rigorous infection prevention protocols in place, and they are working. We have well-trained and experienced staff. We have clear pathways to care for COVID-19 patients separately from those with other illnesses. We have also invested in rapid testing capabilities and personal protective equipment.”
Delray Medical Center is a part of Tenet Palm Beach Health Network.
Baptist Health South Florida began to reopen its facilities on May 6 for elective surgeries, endoscopies and interventional procedures. Enhanced protective measures, including mandatory face masks, social distancing guidelines, and entranceway screenings, will continue to be utilized.
Baptist Health also notes that patients should call their doctor’s offices for the status of appointments that were canceled because of the pandemic. Regularly scheduled appointments with Baptist Health Medical Group physicians are going as planned, though visitor restrictions are in place.
“We want people in our communities to know that Baptist Health has taken all the necessary precautionary actions to keep our patients, staff and visitors safe and healthy,” said Anexis Lopez, R.N., manager of infection control at Doctors Hospital, part of Baptist Health South Florida. “The steps we have taken are consistent with guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Baptist Health is also working closely with local and state public health officials.”
Boca Raton Regional Hospital and Bethesda East are part of Baptist Health South Florida.
Two lab technicians suit up to begin testing samples for COVID-19 on the campus of Miami Cancer Institute.
In mid-April, the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization for Baptist Hospital of Miami Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at Miami Cancer Institute to perform a new COVID-19 swab test in-house, which was developed at the Miami Cancer Institute. This testing allows Miami Cancer Institute to perform a number of tests twice a day and receive results within 24 hours. The lab is able to perform 40-80 tests per day, with capacity for more in the near future.
In early April, a team from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems rapidly produced protective face shields in response to a request from Baptist Health South Florida.
Making the inexpensive, disposable face shield requires only clear polyester plastic, elastic fabric bands, and a laser cutter, and it’s simple and quick. Baptist Health South Florida requested an initial order of 4,000 face shields, which the FAU team completed, and Baptist ordered 4,000 more.
Another innovative solution, this one by Florida Atlantic University’s Cane Institute for Advanced Technologies at A.D. Henderson University School and FAU High School: Through April, students ranging from ages 5 to 18, along with two faculty members, worked to create more than 1,200 3D printed face shields, 36 intubation chambers and 2,000 ear savers for several hospitals in Palm Beach County.
The intubation chambers, a unique form of PPE for hospitals, provide an extra layer of protection for doctors and nurses when they are intubating patients who need to be put on respirators.
Allan Phipps, district science coordinator at Henderson School and FAU High, was contacted by Giovana Jaen, an FAU High grad in her third year as a student at Schmidt College of Medicine, about doing this for a local hospital.
Phipps relocated the school’s 3D printing equipment to his garage and began coordinating the institute’s efforts, as well as manufacturing face shields and intubation chambers with his children, who attend Henderson School. Phipps and James Nance, a middle school science teacher, host social distancing drive-thrus in front of the school where students can drop off 3D printed face shields and ear savers they created at home.
Karethy Edwards, a professor and associate dean of academic programs, and Karen Chambers, an assistant professor, both in Florida Atlantic University’s Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, are spearheading programs to provide PPE and health care services for homeless people and low-income individuals who live in a northwest neighborhood in West Palm Beach. On April 28, in collaboration with the Northwest Community Health Alliance board, Chambers and about 10 faculty and staff members distributed more than 400 face masks to residents in this community. An additional 150 face masks were to be distributed early May.
On April 29, the HCA East Florida Hospitals of Palm Beach County announced its participation in a national study to determine if plasma from convalescent or recovered COVID-19 patients may benefit people hospitalized with severe or life-threatening cases.
As part of the effort, JFK Medical Center and Palms West Hospital are seeking eligible volunteers to donate plasma. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have since tested negative can help by donating plasma through OneBlood (www.oneblood.org/lp/covid-19-convalescent-plasma.stml) or the American Red Cross (www.redcrossblood.org/donate-blood/dlp/plasma-donations-from-recovered-covid-19-patients.html). For information, call HCA’s dedicated COVID-19 Plasma Phone Line at 833-582-1971 or visit hcahealthcare.com.
A team at Jupiter Scripps Research has found that an effective COVID-19 vaccine need not incorporate the entire spike protein that gives the novel coronavirus its crown-like appearance, according to an April 28 news release.
Rather, a vaccine containing one-sixth of the entire spike, just the tip, is sufficient to elicit an immune response in rodent models, and may be safer. This suggests that mass production of a potentially safer, less costly COVID-19 vaccine can be accomplished on a timeline shortened by several months.
The findings were published prior to peer review on the preprint site BioRXiv at www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.10.036418v1.