FL: Despite Silence From State, Feds, 2nd Jacksonville Facility Reports COVID-19


by Kelly Wiley

Mar 26, 2020

More than one Jacksonville long-term care facility has a patient who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, but state and federal officials will not name the facilities where people got sick or say how many sick patients they have.

News4Jax learned Thursday that Taylor Manor on Chester Avenue in the San Jose area has one patient who tested positive.

We have one resident who is confirmed positive for COVID-19. We sent that resident to the hospital. We are taking all the necessary precautions to protect our residents and are in compliance with ACHA. The Florida Department of Health has tested other residents who are negative for COVID-19 and continue to test as necessary.
--Statement from John Barber, CEO of Taylor Residences

State numbers show the Florida Department of Health tracking 41 cases of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities across the state. Duval County -- with 15 -- and Broward County have the most cases.

Jacksonville senior living facility Camellia at Deerwood on Jacksonville’s Southside has confirmed at least seven residents there have tested positive for COVID-19. At least one of their residents has died due to complications from the virus, according to the Florida Department of Health.

“We wish to reassure you that the number of cases reported in senior living and long-term care in Duval County include other locations within our county, not just Camellia at Deerwood,” Executive Director Renea McGrath said in an email to families and residents on Thursday.

News4Jax has requested the name of any other facility experiencing an outbreak in Duval County from the Florida Department of Health, the Agency for Health Care Administration and Gov. Ron Desantis’ office.

The state DOH, AHCA, and -- on the federal level -- the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, refuse to disclose the names of the nursing homes or assisted living facilities that have infected residents, citing privacy concerns.

On a broader scale, 147 nursing homes among 15,000 across the United States have at least one resident with COVID-19. That’s according to a release published Monday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Brian Lee, the executive director of Families for Better Care, said Florida statutes protecting patient privacy do not rationalize withholding the names of facilities experiencing outbreaks.

“Look, they publish information about facilities all over their website. They have inspection results whenever there are scabies outbreaks, there are norovirus outbreaks, information is released. They can’t use that excuse any longer. It’s laughable,” Lee said. “They are not releasing anyone’s individual health care information. That’s what HIPAA is all about -- individual health information.”

In a tweet to Desantis, Families for Better Care recommended the administration prioritize personal protective equipment to health care workers, be transparent about any outbreaks and test all residents and staff immediately.

Management at Camellia at Deerwood told families in a letter Thursday that the incident command team that’s been stationed at the senior living center facility since Monday anticipates completing the remaining testing on residents and staff for COVID-19 on Thursday and plans to continue the sanitation process.


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