SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) – There’s a COVID-19 outbreak at Tarpon Point Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Sarasota County health officials confirm there’s approximately 45 new cases at the facility in addition to 15 active cases among staff and residents.
Multiple loved ones of residents at the facility contacted 8 On Your Side after our first story aired on the outbreak Wednesday.
One woman whose mother tested positive weeks ago wrote, “I have been fighting with them for 3 weeks trying to get updates on her status”.
Another woman whose father died at the facility last week wrote, .
“I tried for 10 days to get him tested, but they wouldn’t because he didn’t have traditional symptoms. My mom shared with them a study out of France that showed seniors can present with different symptoms. We were told ‘everyone who gets sick thinks it’s COVID’ — he died 10 days later.” She said the coroner confirmed her father died from COVID-19.
The situation for Leonora DeCerio was a little bit different. She lost her 77-year-old mother to COVID-19 at Tarpon Point, but she was able to get into the facility before she passed away. The Bradenton woman spent two days in the facility dressed head to toe in PPE and was by her mother’s side until her last breath.
“My heart broke for the staff and my heart breaks for the rest of the residents because they are so understaffed,” said DeCerio.
DeCerio tells 8 On Your Side she couldn’t believe the conditions inside the facility. She says the limited staff didn’t have enough protective equipment to avoid cross-contamination.
“I wholeheartedly feel that they are trying to do the best that they can with what they have to work with,” said DeCerio.
While in the facility during her mother’s final days, DeCerio watched staff go between rooms and hallways without changing their protective gear.
“The staff needs to be able to change their mask and their gloves and not just sanitize their gloves. They need to be removing them and putting fresh ones on every time they touch or go into another room,” said DeCerio.
The Sarasota County Department of Health confirms the entire facility underwent testing last week.
DeCerio says the testing came far too late. She says she pushed the facility to test her mother for the virus as soon as she learned about a positive case on April 26. After no action, DeCerio took things into her own hands, managed to get a testing kit on her own, and brought it to the front of the facility.
A few days later, the results came back — her mother tested positive. She passed away two days after the results came in.
“The ball was dropped when nobody was tested before this got out of hand,” said DeCerio .
DeCerio wants the state to bring rapid testing to all nursing homes so staff members can be tested everyday before going into work and potentially infecting our most vulnerable population.
“It is not about the money or the profit anymore. It’s about making sure that the residents are being taken care of who have it and preventing the ones that don’t,” said DeCerio.
8 On Your Side reached out to the nursing home for comment multiple times Wednesday and Thursday. Management asked for us to send a list of questions via e-mail.
This is the response we received Friday morning :
We appreciate your interest to report on the current Covid 19 activity at Tarpon Point Nursing and Rehabilitation, however, this continues to be a very fluid situation. We are continuing to work closely with Local, State and Federal agencies to deal with this ever changing situation. At this point, all residents and active staff members have been tested for the virus. Tarpon Point’s dedicated health care professionals have implemented protocols to isolate those residents and staff that have tested positive for the virus from the general population. The facility has dedicated various wings of the facility solely to treat the Covid positive residents, implemented extensive cleaning procedures, and contained the remaining residents in their rooms. The facility has been in contact with resident family members to apprise them of the situation. Tarpon Point is proud of their dedicated staff and their efforts to halt the progress of this virus and would like to express our deepest sympathies to those families or residents lost and affected by the virus at Tarpon Point. Tarpon Point, in coordination with State and Federal Officials, will continue to fight for the health and safety of our residents and staff during these trying times.
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