As you know, the Zika virus and its implications for South Florida continue to be an important topic of conversation for our community and for us as healthcare providers. The situation is changing rapidly, and we’re following it and making appropriate changes to our response and to our plans along the way. We remain at a level 3 activation, which means we’re closely monitoring the situation and are responding accordingly.
As of today, there are 406 cases of the Zika virus in the state of Florida. Fifteen of those cases involve local transmission in Miami-Dade County. The Florida Department of Health still believes that local transmission is only taking place within the identified one-square-mile area that includes Wynwood, north of downtown Miami.
Earlier this week, Florida’s governor instructed the health department to request a CDC Emergency Response Team. That team is now here in South Florida helping the health department with its investigation, outreach and mosquito control efforts.
At Baptist Health, we’ve assembled a Zika task force that includes physician leaders within our system, private practice physicians (including local OB physicians), entity leaders, infection control professionals and others to ensure that our response plan is well-rounded and well communicated. The expertise of these individuals has been extremely valuable as we prepare to respond to the needs of our community under various scenarios. With extensive media coverage of the Zika issue, Baptist Health’s experts have also been front and center in national and local media interviews, including the Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Boston Globe, NPR, Univision and the Miami Herald. Special thanks to Jorge Perez, M.D., Rafael Perez, M.D., Ellen Schwartzbard, M.D., and Jack Ziffer, Ph.D., M.D. for lending their expertise to the task force and for numerous media stories. Our nursing staff and leaders across the organization – and especially in labor and delivery, the labs, emergency rooms and urgent care centers – have been performing at their usual exceptional level during these special circumstances, and I thank them now, and will many times to come, as we help our patients and community work through this.
One of our priorities is community education. While patients with symptoms should always seek appropriate treatment, it is important for people with no symptoms who may be concerned about the virus to talk with their physician. Whether it’s a primary care physician or an obstetrician, it is important for concerned individuals to speak with their doctor. The doctor can then determine, along with the health department, whether the patient meets the testing criteria and can help manage the patient’s follow-up care.
We’ve added the latest information about the Zika virus to our website, BaptistHealth.net/Zika as well as our employee Intranet to keep everyone up to date. We’ll continue to update both as the situation changes.