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Coronavirus preps: Elderly facility in Clearwater preparing staff, volunteers, residents


CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Employees at Empath Health in Clearwater are preparing their facility to fight against coronavirus.

Empath Health has a task force that meets weekly with Emergency Management Sevices and the FL Department of Health. Managers had a meeting Monday morning discussing extra prevention methods to keep this virus outside these walls and away from patients.

The organization serves 1,500 elderly in Pinellas County every day between home health, private daycare, and hospice. The Chief Medical Officer said most patients are facing underlying health issues including respiratory issues and shortness of breath which would make separating Coronavirus symptoms difficult.

In addition to doubling up cleaning efforts, and following CDC guidelines they’re taking extra precautions. Empath Health recently got nasal swabs to test for coronavirus themselves. They have 5 isolation rooms ready to go and 1,700+ N-95 surgical masks. They have about 1,000 staff at 2,000 volunteers who are mostly seniors so keeping everyone healthy is important.

Some Assisted Living Facilities in St. Petersburg are making all visitors have their temperature taken before they walk through the door. Empath Health said they are not taking that precaution as of now but they believe it will only be a matter of time before implementing mandatory visitor procedures.

“It’s a good wake up call,” said Empath Health Chief Medical Officer Larry Kay, MD. “It’s not an epidemic fatal to a lot of people. Because it spreads so fast, it could affect a lot of people and that 1-2% mortality rate counts for tens of thousands of people”.

“Personally I’m not too concerned, do a little more handwashing,” said volunteer Susan Ford. “I do care for my mother in her 80’s with asthma so I’m trying to make sure she has provisions.”


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