COVID-19 outbreak at Tamarac nursing home has residents’ families outraged

Florida Gov. discusses plan to reopen long term care facilities for family visits

TAMARAC, Fla. – A Tamarac nursing home dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak is seeing new cases of the virus as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking about his plan to eventually reopen long term care facilities so families can visit their loved ones. 

Barb Mckie’s mom was moved to make way for the COVID-only wing here Tamarac Rehabilitation Center last month. She has since contracted the novel coronavirus. 

“I don’t even know if she cannot breathe, I don’t even know what’s happening with her,” said Barb. “I told them I didn’t want her being moved. Why is it that I don’t know what the medical plan is for my mother since being tested positive?”

Barb’s family is among those who feel blindsided, even lied to, at the center where the number of COVID positive residents ballooned from six to 44 in the two weeks since management converted its east wing to a COVID convalescent center, then falsely communicated that the state made them do it.

Of the families that Local 10 News has spoken to, several of them have since tragically passed away.  Though the timelines suggest that the spread started before the COVID-only wing opened, families are upset over being left in the dark.

DeSantis told Local 10 News that he would be looking into communication issues. 

"The families, they need to be kept apprised of that," he said. 

At a roundtable in Jacksonville on Tuesday, DeSantis kickstarted ideas to find a way to re-open long-term care facilities to families and visitors for the first time since restricting them in March to protect the vulnerable residents.

"To not be there and be able to be there is something that leaves a mark," DeSantis said. 

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 has been a desperately futile effort in some facilities because of daily staff coming in and out, close quarters and vulnerable elderly residents.

The governor is now looking at rapid point of entry tests for family members and even considering whether family showing coronavirus antibodies are safe to admit.

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