A St. Petersburg nursing home is sending eight more nursing home residents to local hospitals Thursday night after sending ten to the hospital earlier this week.
An email from Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice sent to fellow commissioners confirmed the impending transfer from St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation to local facilities.
Ron Tencza, the facility’s executive director, told Florida Politics the nursing home is currently working on taking care of its residents but would not confirm the number of residents.
A report from the Department of Health shows 23 residents had tested positive in the facility as of Wednesday afternoon, as had two staff members.
The department and the Agency for Health Care Administration are working at the facility to identify patients with COVID-19.
When someone at a long-term care facility tests positive, the state immediately sends rapid emergency support teams to test patients at the facility. Those emergency support teams include an infection preventionist, regional and state staff and an advanced life support ambulance.
Statewide, 814 residents of nursing homes have died from COVID-19 as of Thursday morning. None have died at St. Petersburg Nursing and Rehabilitation as of the most recent weekly report.
Protecting the at-risk individuals, particularly the elderly in nursing homes, has been one of the focuses of the state’s COVID-19 response.
“We understand the policy of transferring residents who are COVID positive and symptomatic, as we know that this virus can spread quickly,” said Florida Health Care Association spokeswoman Kristen Knapp. “It’s important the process is done carefully and with proper planning so facilities have time to notify families, prepare residents, organize staff and coordinate with physicians, the local hospitals, EMS and other health care professionals that need to be involved.”
Last week, the state launched a mobile testing lab designed to test nursing home residents and staff with results that can be returned within 45 minutes. This week, Gov. Ron DeSantis began encouraging nursing homes to send their staff to drive-thru testing sites every two weeks as a secondary precaution to the daily screening and temperature checks staff undergo.
Two months ago, DeSantis shut down all visitation at nursing homes. But Wednesday, he shared the possibility of allowing visitors in for a “psychological boost” to residents who haven’t seen family during the pandemic.