VENICE — As northern states cope with spikes in COVID-19, Florida crossed the 1 million case threshold with nursing homes seeing recent surges.
Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30, the number of positive resident cases in Florida assisted living centers and short-term nursing homes nearly doubled, from 783 to 1,510.
The number of COVID-19 positive staff members has remained around 2,000 throughout the month — with a low on Nov. 26 of 1,684 and a high on Nov. 9 of 2,134. On Nov. 30, it was 1,847.
In Charlotte, DeSoto and Sarasota counties, nearly 550 patients or workers in assisted living centers have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week, according to the most recent state numbers.
Sunset Lake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Venice was facing the highest local numbers, with 49 positive patients; 8 patients who had been transferred; and 33 staff members.
The facility has 120 beds.
Owned by Tampa-based Greystone, its officials had slightly different numbers on COVID-19 positives.
“As of (Nov. 30), there are 30 residents positive with COVID-19,” Greystone Senior Director of Communications Karen Marotta said in a short statement.
ManorCare Venice had 16 residents fighting COVID-19 along with four staff members and two residents who have been transferred, according to the state.
A ManorCare associate, who is not named because of employment concerns, stated ManorCare itself is becoming “a COVID unit.”
“It’s not up to standards or up to guidelines,” the associate, who works in nursing for years, stated.
ManorCare’s corporate owner, ProMedica, based in Ohio, acknowledged the increasing number of cases. It stated it would investigate any allegations.
“We take any allegations seriously and will be looking into the claims that the center is not clean or following the CDC and CMS guidelines,” ProMedica Senior Care Mareting Communications Julie Beckert said in an email Tuesday.
Beckert later said “leadership of the center toured the facility (Tuesday) morning and all were clean … We are proud of how well the center is using all the resources available to protect and provide care throughout the building.”
She said ManorCare Venice had 16 patients test positive with all being asymptomatic, and “we are beginning to see patients recover.” She noted 10 employees have tested positive, noting five have recovered.
“Where COVID is increasing across the country, we have seen spikes in positive cases in our facilities as well,” she said. “The ability to test employees regularly (in most facilities we test weekly) and have access to proper PPE has enable us to be able to contain the virus early on and reduce the risk of spread.”
She said they are able to “quarantine or isolate earlier” to help manage the virus.
However, another associate confirmed to work at ManorCare told the Gondolier personal protection equipment has been lacking and communication inside the Venice facility has been inadequate.
The person said ManorCare didn’t let them know about another person’s COVID-19 situation.
“The facility didn’t tell me. I was exposed to this person for hours before they told me,” the worker said.
ProMedica has more than 400 post-acute facilities in 28 states. Beckert noted its mortality rate is decreasing throughout its facilities.
“This is due to access to PPE, following infection control procedures, ongoing testing for everyone coming to our facilities and understanding more about how early the virus can transfer among individuals. We are doing well with PPE, but the cost for PPE and weekly testing along with temporary staffing when we have employees out, is significant for us and across the industry,” she said in the email.
She also said it is important everyone follow “infection control processes” as centers are opened for visitation.
“We strongly encourage the community to be safe and follow all the CDC’s recommendations for safe gatherings, social distancing and infection control,” she said. “Our team of healthcare heroes have been amazing for the last nine months and we want to keep them safe and healthy so they can continue to provide the care our patients need.”
She noted ManorCare Venice only had one patient with COVID between March and October, and the increase began in November when “community spread significantly spiked.” She said the local facility was the last “skilled nursing facility in Venice to have COVID enter the building.”
“This accomplishment is due to their commitment to adhering to the protocols in place,” she said.
The Springs of South Biscayne in North Port has three COVID-19 patients who have been transferred along with 14 workers. Harborchase of Venice has eight COVID-19 patients who have been transferred and one worker. Elmcroft of Bella Vita, across the street from ManorCare Venice, has had six COVID-19 patients still at the facility.
In DeSoto County, Arcadia Oaks Assisted Living has had 19 COVID-19 patients who have been transferred while DeSoto Health and Rehab has had six.
In Charlotte County, Lexington Manor Assisted Living has 21 COVID-19 patients along with five staff members; Port Charlotte Rehabilitation Center has 18 COVID-19 patients and two staff members.
Signature Healthcare of Port Charlotte has 10 COVID-19 patients. Solaris Healthcare Charlotte Harbor has two patients with COVID-19 and 16 patients who have been transferred. Village Place Health and Rehabilitation Center in Port Charlotte reported five COVID-19 patients with nine that had been transferred and seven staff members who had tested positive.