TAMPA, Fla. — While cases continue to rise in the state, some with loved ones in nursing homes say they are left in the dark about what’s happening inside.
For months, the Department of Health was releasing a weekly report, that showed cases in long-term care facilities and deaths. That’s not the case anymore.
The data now released by the state does not include anything about long-term care. Lyn Deckman says she wishes more data was being released.
“I do. I really do,” said Deckman whose mom is in a Florida nursing home. “COVID is everywhere now. Prisons, hospitals, and nursing homes.”
Her 94-year-old mother, Mary, recently tested positive inside her nursing home although Mary is vaccinated. Mary has been in a nursing home for almost a year
“It was weird for her to test positive. We were surprised at that,’ says Deckman.
A CDC report leaked overnight regarding COVID-19, mentioned the vaccine seemed to be less effective in nursing home patients than once thought.
“So, maybe a good idea now to start thinking about another shot in the population that's over a certain age group,” said Dr. Jill Roberts, with the University of South Florida.
Dr. Roberts says the effectiveness data isn’t shocking. It’s an older population but she adds we still have to do whatever we can to prevent the virus from entering long-term care.
“Given this CDC data that shows that some of these people who are patients here may have lower efficacy and are therefore at risk. We need to make sure that people that are working with them are vaccinated,” said Dr. Roberts.
But the latest data report 10 Investigates obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services doesn’t look so good.
Out of the 10 counties that make up the Tampa Bay area, only 6 facilities are reporting 75-percent or more of their staff being fully vaccinated. In the entire state, there are less than 25 facilities. Only one of them is reporting 100-percent of staff being vaccinated and that’s a facility in Miami-Dade County.
“And that's really sad, to be honest. I mean, these are the individuals that we would like to be out in the community, actually doing the good work and saying about how beneficial that the vaccines are and that they're not getting vaccinated is concerning. “said Dr. Roberts.
It's concerning to Deckman.
“I don't understand it. Because to me, the science is, is there just if you're going to work in a population that is at risk, then either get the vaccination or take some months off,” said Deckman.
10 Investigates reached out to The Agency for Health Care Administration, also known as AHCA. They emailed us this statement:
"Throughout the public health emergency, the Agency has been committed to supporting our partners in long-term care, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The Agency continues our pre-pandemic regulatory activities and is actively surveying Florida’s health care facilities, in which we review facilities’ compliance with infection prevention and control protocols.
In all circumstances of infection control issues, long-term care facilities must report to the Department of Health, Health Care-Associated Infections (HAI) Program teams, who coordinate directly with Agency regional staff to discuss infection control protocol and next steps. The Agency has bi-weekly calls with the HAI Program teams to discuss long-term care (both nursing homes and assisted living facilities) with case increases, next steps for facilities that fail to implement recommendations, scheduling joint visits and providing outreach to health care association and providers to provide educational opportunities."
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