JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A nursing home on Jacksonville’s Westside reported Monday that 13 residents have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
As of Friday night, according to the Florida Department of Health, Signature Healthcare of Jacksonville had 12 resident deaths due to the coronavirus. The latest report from the health department shows those deaths have all been verified in the last three weeks, with five of them coming last week alone.
In a statement Monday to News4Jax, Signature Healthcare of Jacksonville confirmed the deaths of 13 residents who tested positive for COVID-19.
With 13 deaths, more residents have died of COVID-19 inside this facility than in any other long-term care facility in Northeast Florida.
Signature Healthcare of Jacksonville is licensed for 180 beds, 128 of which are in rooms with four beds. Twenty-six rooms are doubles. The facility does not have any private rooms.
According to the health department, 42 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 and another 31 residents who tested positive have been transferred elsewhere. And 37 staff members have tested positive.
“We have to do a better job collectively to take care of our loved ones," said Brian Lee, the executive director of Families For Better Care, which is a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to creating public awareness of nursing home conditions. “Florida is still grappling with trying to get this virus under control in nursing homes."
Around 50% of COVID19-related deaths in Florida have been at nursing homes or long-term care facilities. In Duval County, it’s closer to 53%.
“It could be that there needs to be more PPE (personal protective equipment) at this particular home and across the state," Lee said. “But what really needs to happen, if we are going to push this virus out of nursing homes altogether, it’s all about the testing.”
According to Lee, rapid testing machines should be in every single nursing home. He said the state could pay for the machines with money it’s collected from nursing homes that have paid fines over the years.
“Test all the residents and staff frequently, to make sure people are well and people who sick and get them the medical attention they need and get them away from those who are well,” Lee said.
He also said this could be used to test loved ones when the time comes they are allowed back into facilities.
“If they’re negative, they could walk right in and go see their loved one. It guarantees safety for everybody and will restore relationships fractured by COVID-19," Lee said.
As for families with loved ones inside nursing homes, Lee recommends they start asking questions now -- as many as possible -- to find out what’s going on inside these facilities.
In the statement issued Monday, Signature Healthcare said, in part: “Signature HealthCARE of Jacksonville employed a facility-wide testing approach in early May which has been used in several other Signature facilities and comes highly recommended by our infectious disease physicians, as well as the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and other state government partners. This approach allows us to immediately identify the scope of the virus in the facility and work swiftly to contain any further spread.”
The statement said, since the initial facility-wide testing results, the facility has had 20 residents who tested positive for COVID-19 fully recover, along with six staff members.