BREVARD COVID-19 UPDATE: Health First Ensures Discharged Patients Have a Healthy Place to Recover
By Space Coast Daily // March 24, 2020
These services are paid for by Health First
Despite COVID-19 Worries, Brevard Healthcare System’s Four Hospitals Always Make Sure People Leave Healthy – or Have Somewhere to Be for Continued Care
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Despite news media reports alleging some assisted living or skilled nursing facilities are turning away patients over COVID-19 fears, Health First is doing its part to ensure any at-risk patient gets the care they need in Brevard.
“We don’t discharge anyone who has a medical need without finding them a place to stay,” said Dr. Michael McLaughlin, Vice President of Medical Affairs at Health First’s Holmes Regional Medical Center.
Any patient who has been discharged from a Health First hospital must be deemed in good enough condition to leave – if not, Health First ensures that the patient has a facility to go to or someone to care for them. Health First itself does not own any assisted living facilities.
Even in cases of homeless patients who might still need care with no place to go or no one to care for them, Health First makes sure they’re covered.
They are either set up in an assisted living facility, skilled nursing facility or even a hotel or motel, where Health First can continue to provide the healthcare needed by the person – for example, IV antibiotics – outside of a hospital setting.
“These services are paid for by Health First,” McLaughlin said of the IDN’s policy to care for those who are unable to pay.
While one of these ALFs or SNFs theoretically might not accept a patient due to a COVID-19 infection, a Health First hospital wouldn’t be releasing a patient sickened by the virus in the first place, McLaughlin said.
Anyone released from one of the IDN’s four hospitals would have to be considered a “safe discharge” in order to leave the hospital.
In addition, guidelines outlined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services dictate that assisted living and skilled nursing facilities cannot refuse to accept patients.
While a March 14 emergency order issued by the Governor of Florida bans visitors at ALFs and SNFs for 30 days unless a patient is near death, McLaughlin said he does not know of any facility in Brevard that has turned away a Health First patient.
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