'Turned upside down' by coronavirus: Inside the Tallahassee Developmental Center
Capital Regional Medical Center Director of Respiratory Care Antwan Brooks, MBA, RRT, describes how CRMC determines who is a coronavirus patient. Tallahassee Democrat
A series of strokes a few years ago left Peter Prater unable to walk with only minimal use of one arm, and requiring round-the-clock care.
Forced to give up his home in the community, the 54-year-old Seminoles fan with Down Syndrome
2020欧洲杯正规平台Until recently, his sister and brother-in-law regularly visited two or three times a week, bringing him home-cooked meals. That ended when the presence of the coronavirus in Florida forced TDC to lockdown and stop allowing visitors in mid-March.
And then things took a turn for the worse when he developed a serious infection and was sent to Capital Regional Medical Center.
“TDC called me to say they were taking Peter to the emergency room,” his sister, Susan DeBeaugrine, said.
The hospital tested him for the coronavirus, and when the results came back positive on April 3, both she and the administrators at TDC were shocked, she said. They'd been screening residents and staff with a state-approved questionnaire since the first week of March.
Prater was the first resident of TDC who tested positive for the coronavirus, which causes the sometimes deadly COVID-19 respiratory infection.
The virus spread through the venerable long-term care facility for adults with intellectual, behavioral and developmental challenges quickly. They made the decision to test all the residents and staff with the help of both CRMC and Tallahassee Memorial
"It was a decision that once we started seeing the spread, can we get everybody tested?" Marilyn Yon,President of Quest Management Group, said.
"I'm glad we did it," she said, because now TDC knows exactly who is and who isn't coronavirus-positive. "It was the best decision at the time."
It's unclear how the virus infiltrated the TDC, though, Yon said. Quest Management Group runs TDC and four similar intermediate care facilities from Pensacola to Tampa.
"We’ll never know if it was brought in by staff or a family member," Yon said.
The facility had a clean bill of health from the Agency for Health Care Administration, after correcting minor deficiencies. It was considered a good report, one administrator said.
Yon said they thought they were ahead of the curve, starting March 4 by sending notices to employees and family members to stay home if not feeling well. On March 12, TDC instituted a state-approved screening questionnaire. On Mar. 18, staff began taking temperatures of all staff, and prohibited families and non-essential visitors.
She remembers even telling one staffer who had been to a funeral in Fort Lauderdale they couldn't come to work.
"I don't know that you can even protect yourself from this virus," she said. "It’s so vicious and can spread so easily."
None of the four other facilities run by TDC's parent company have had any staff or residents test positive for the coronavirus, she said.
'The hardest thing I ever had to do'
It's challenging for the staff, and especially hard on the residents, said Sally Search, whose 48-year-old son has lived at TDC for 30-plus years.
2020欧洲杯正规平台"They don’t understand what has happened to them," she said. "Their world has turned upside down."
At a nursing home, staff can explain social distancing and the need to wear a
2020欧洲杯正规平台For the Quest Management Group, which runs both TDC and Pyramid Studio, it's been a logistical nightmare to segregate infected residents from healthy ones, and accomplish that with a third of the staff infected and quarantined.
2020欧洲杯正规平台When Hurricane Michael was bearing down on Panama City, it took a herculean effort to move residents and staff from their facility there to three other facilities.
2020欧洲杯正规平台"I felt I would look back on that and see that as the hardest thing I ever had to do in my professional career. This has topped it," Yon said.
'Shifting into high gear'
Eleven of the initial 32 residents who tested positive were sent to Capital Regional Medical Center, one of them in critical condition. He died Thursday night.
2020欧洲杯正规平台The others remained stable, and one was discharged to the Pyramid studio, which was converted into a residence hall for those residents who tested negative for the virus. It was deep cleaned and inspected by state health officials before residents moved in.
As of Saturday, 10 residents were hospitalized — 9 at CRMC and one at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.
About 25 infected residents and 10 uninfected remain at TDC, and 14 negative residents are at the studio. The staff assisting the infected residents are not allowed in the studio with the uninfected. Two residents were removed by family members because the rules prevented them from visiting.
That's where Prater will go once the hospital administers two negative tests in a row for the coronavirus.
"We're really pleased with that," his sister, Susan, said. "He'll have a lot of privacy."
The studio has private rooms and showers, two kitchens, floor mats for exercise and other amenities including internet and computer access.
DeBeaugrine said she could tell the TDC staff and administrators were “really shifting into high gear to take care of this."
With a third of the center’s 136 staff testing positive, Quest has had to call in reinforcements. Supervisors have plugged up gaps in shift coverage with employees from Pyramid, a sister company that provides art classes and other day training in the community.
2020欧洲杯正规平台The local hospitals have provided nurses to cover all the houses and all the shifts, including the Studio. And the Department of Health has committed 20 certified nursing assistants.
2020欧洲杯正规平台The Leon County Emergency Operations Center supplied N95 masks and personal protective equipment to TDC staff.
Staying staffed, keeping people safely separated from each other and creating a new living quarters has been a 14-16 hour a day project, Yon said.
2020欧洲杯正规平台TDC stopped sending residents to Pyramid in mid-March, but the studio continued to teach classes until March 30 for students from the greater community.
'We're back at home'
2020欧洲杯正规平台Nearly a dozen staffers who were sent home were upset, some in tears, worried about "their" residents.
"This is a new experience for them and for us," Yon said. "Am I sad? I hate it so much that this has happened to them... and the families under this stress… I hate it for the community."
2020欧洲杯正规平台Almost all the TDC management is gone, some tested positive and were quarantined, but others with medical conditions weren't comfortable working at TDC anymore, Yon said.
"We had to give power for everyone to decide what to do for themselves," she said.
2020欧洲杯正规平台They were replaced with about 10 people from Yon's team from Quest, some of whom held jobs at TDC at one point in their careers.
2020欧洲杯正规平台"We kind of feel like we're back at home," Yon said.
Contact Jeff Schweers at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.
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