To Whom It May Concern,
The Department of Health released a list of long-term care facilities with a positive case of COVID-19 over the weekend, including us. We did, in fact, have a positive case of the virus. The only positive case we have had was a staff member nearly a month ago and has since been cleared to return to work. As of my writing this, no residents or any other staff tested positive, are under investigation, or have any symptoms to give us reason for concern.
Understanding details help ease the mind, I’ll elaborate on the sequence of events. Our staff member that tested positive was a caregiver that reported to work on March 20th with a normal temperature and no symptoms. During her shift, she wasn’t feeling herself so we took her temperature again and it was a mild fever, so we sent her home. On March 29th, we found out from the Department of Health that she had tested positive. Unfortunately it had been 10 days already since she was last at work, limiting what our response could have been, but luckily we have been taking temperatures of residents and staff since early March. This allowed us to have a temperature baseline prior to exposure and confirm there was no change at that point in any residents. Additionally, according to the CDC, given the staff member was wearing the appropriate PPE, anyone exposed to the staff member was deemed to be a “Low Risk” to begin with.
As it relates to our policies, the Department of Health as well as the Agency for Health Care Administration came to the property on March 30th for a surprise audit of our protocols in action in the light of the positive test case. Three individuals spent a couple of hours here reviewing/observing our operations and left finding no deficiencies, which was the second time they did the audit (first time was March 18th, two days prior to the staff member showing symptoms). The only recommendation they gave us was to increase our temperature checks for staff and residents to twice per day instead of once per day. For transparency, the public results of both surveys are attached to this letter.
As a facility, we implemented preventative measures, visitor restrictions, and required PPE very early, which we are grateful for as it made this an isolated case that is now inactive. The staff member has since tested negative three times and the DOH cleared her to return to work. We currently have no residents or staff that are positive, under investigation, or symptomatic. Luckily, the positive case served as reinforcement to my staff that our safety protocols work and has encouraged them to be incrementally more diligent.
We are continuing to work with the Department of Health, Sarasota County, the Agency for Health Care Administration, and the CDC in making sure we are doing everything in our power to protect our community. They have been invaluable resources from helping us develop additional preventative measures, procuring additional PPE, and acting as a sounding board for ideas we have. I’ve heard from many of our families that are in agreement, but our staff has also been extraordinary during these trying times and we cannot thank them enough for their hard work.
My office is always available for questions or concerns anyone might have as we are trying to be completely transparent during this process. We’re confident this was an isolated case that is behind us and that our residents are as safe as they possibly could be during this time.