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Assisted living facility on Jacksonville’s Southside reports second positive coronavirus case

Jacksonville woman trying to remain calm while her mother is being isolated at Camellia at Deerwood

Jacksonville woman trying to remain calm while her mother is being isolated at Camellia at Deerwood

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Virginia Lesperance thought her mother’s assisted living facility was just taking extra precautions when she saw signs on the door saying visitors wouldn’t be allowed in.

They were, but she later learned the assisted-living facility was dealing with their first case of coronavirus.

An 83-year-old man had tested positive for COVID-19, state health officials announced Thursday.

Her first reaction was panic.

“Complete panic. Just, ok, what are they doing? What’s going on? What can you tell me?” Lesperance said.

Lesperance’s mother Mary, a former nurse, has lived at Camellia at Deerwood for two years. She loves it, according to Lesperance. It’s her home.

Camellia at Deerwood assisted living residents lock down after two positive COVID-19 test results. (News4Jax)

Lesperance told us as much as the situation worried her, she said she couldn’t think of a place she trusts more to take care of her mother.

“It is worrisome, but I truly believe the faculty know their residents. They aren’t just patients or residents really, they are family, everyone knows everyone. I think they are being really good about checking on everyone,” Lesperance said.

Since the 83-year-old man tested positive Lesperance has heard about another resident with the virus.

In an email sent Sunday, Camellia at Deerwood’s Senior Executive Director Renea McGrath told families and residents they had been notified of a second resident also tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the email, both residents are being quarantined at local hospitals.

The assisted living facility is restricting visitors’ access to only include essential individuals that have been screened and had their temperature checked. They say they are also monitoring residents and associates for any signs and symptoms daily, and isolating any people who had direct contact to either of the residents who tested positive for the virus.

“They are having everyone stay in their rooms, bringing all their meals to them, checking their temperatures every time they bring a meal. Just making sure all of their needs are met, but keeping them as safe as possible,” said Lesperance. “She can still walk her dog. But they have to wear a mask and since the second resident was confirmed to have it – that’s when they told everyone we really want you to just stay in your rooms.”

The new rules also mean Lesperance can’t visit her mom right now. She’s used to visiting her multiple times each week.

“It’s been at least a week. When we came and dropped the things off Thursday I just went to the front desk and left them there. So, it’s been hard,” said Lesperance. “I didn’t think it was going to hit home, but it’s my mom. I mean, this is something that can ultimately kill her. So, that does scare me, but I am trying to be optimistic.”

Lesperance says at least right now her mother is in good spirits. She has her dog and is binge-watching NCIS. She’s worried, but hopeful keeping her mother isolated will keep her safe and healthy.

“I am trying to be optimistic. As long, and my mom is in good spirits and as long as I can talk to her and check on her then I know it’s going to be ok. But, I do worry about it becoming worse.”

News4Jax reached out to Camellia at Deerwood to inquire about the email sent to residents. At the time of publication, we have heard from the facility, but they have not gotten back with us to answer our question.


About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.