Number of COVID-19 tests keeps state senior homes from reaching deadline

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Friday was the state’s deadlines for all nursing homes in the state to have staff and resident tested for the coronavirus. But we learned that goal has not been reached.

“Today was the goal to get all long-term care facility residents and staff tested,” said Kristen Knapp, the director of communications at Florida Healthcare Association.

Knapp says the goal was not met by all facilities due to the number of tests that needing processing.

“The labs are processing up to 10,000 test kits a day,” Knapp said.

But the governor says facilities are close to reaching the state’s goal.

“We’re now almost done testing all staff and residents at long-term care facilities,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis.

We spoke to a community member in Southwest Florida who knows the impact the coronavirus has had on senior facilities in the region. Rachel Telhomme’s father Jean Claude lived at a long-term care facility in Charlotte County and believes it cost him his life.

“I just made the executive decision, and I called 911,” Telhomme said.

After he tested positive for COVID-19 and started going downhill, Telhomme says she ended up calling for help for her father.

“I called the ER an hour later, and they said, ‘Well, thank God that you called.’ He was tachycardic. He had a temperature of 103.”

Claude lived at South Port Square in Port Charlotte, one of many nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Southwest Florida dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Florida Department of Health, 44% of all Charlotte County’s COVID-19 cases are from long-term care facilities.

COVID-19 cases reported by the state health department continue to rise on a daily basis as the state continues to reopen, and 52% of the states nearly 2,900 COVID-19 deaths involve people living in or working at nursing home facilities.

“The CDC is recommending that individuals who are workers be screened every two weeks,” said Dr. Scott Rivkees, the Florida surgeon general. “So this is something that we will have additional guidance coming out about going forward.”

But regardless of what procedures the government puts in place or where a loved one is, Telhomme says your family’s best protection is you.

“I fought for my father,” Telhomme said. “I fought for him hard, and I hope he’s looking down and having he sees that I fought for him and I’m still fighting for him.”

Statement from South Port Square

” … The health and safety of the residents is always our top priority. As such, our community follows all guidelines set forth by the Florida Department of Health, the Agency for Healthcare Administration and the CDC. We have an open, communicative relationship with our local health officials, and are adapting as required based on the evolving nature of the situation.”

“We are following all federal, state, and local guidance on infection control precautions including, but not limited to residents and staff wearing masks, temperature checks for anyone coming on our campus, and twice per shift for our health center employees.”

“We are participating in the Statewide mandatory testing and have worked with the State and County Health Departments to obtain testing kits and dates to submit our tests to the State. At this time, we have tested our Skilled Nursing employees and we are currently testing our Assisted Living and Memory Care employees.”

“The licensed name for our Health Center as it appears on the State COVID website is Harbour Health Center (Skilled Nursing) and Harbour Health Assisted Living.”

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