It was a delicate few days between Grand Oaks Health and Rehabilitation Center, a 100-patient nursing home on Palm Coast Parkway, and the Flagler Health Department, whose “strike teams” have been visiting nursing homes and assisted living facilities, ensuring compliance with coronavirus safety guidelines, and testing residents and staff wherever possible.
Today alone, two Flagler strike teams, each made up of eight nurses, paramedics and members of the Florida National Guard, tested every one of the 80 residents at Flagler Health and Rehabilitation in Bunnell and every one of its 120 staff members, as well as the 46 residents and 60 staff members at Market Street, the memory care facility on Corporate Drive in Palm Coast.
“The department of health is regarded as the lead agency for guiding the response to this pandemic along with key partners, along with the department of emergency management,” says Bob Snyder, who heads the Flagler Health Department. So it’s been as the teams have visited one assisted living or nursing home after another for five weeks–all 71 of them in the county, usually getting a welcome response from people who run the facilities–for the guidance, the personal protection equipment that the department can provide, and now the large-scale testing.
The testing was focused on specific facilities. “I felt that it was important to focus first on the three facilities that have residents with more compromised needs, or just more serious health care needs and compromising conditions,” Snyder said, “because of course in a nursing home you’re going to have your sickest elderly patients instead of at an assisted living facility.”
Flagler Health and Rehabilitation and Market Street were all for it. Grand Oaks was the exception.
The facility welcomed Snyder and his team last week for a lengthy walk-through, reviewing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. That went well. But when Snyder proposed offering free testing for staff and residents, local management balked. “They did not approve our initial offer, put it that way,” he said. The testing is voluntary of course: the department of health can’t force it on a facility.
But for the sake of residents and staff, testing has been emphasized statewide (and nationally) as a crucial factor in detecting and controlling infections in one of the coronavirus’s favorite cauldrons: some 1,729 residents and 1,600 staff members of such facilities have tested positive for Covid-19 since the beginning of the emergency (the number is cumulative and does not reflect recoveries), and 665 have died–40 percent of Florida’s Covid-19 fatalities.
On Wednesday Snyder–whose persistence can be underestimated–was back at Grand Oaks to talk about the department’s recommendations and took the opportunity to try again to win consent for testing, “including like, come on, talk to me about your resistance to having us come in and test,” he recalled today, “and that’s when I tried real hard, and didn’t quite understand why they didn’t want to. It’s voluntary that these nursing home agrees to this or not, and believe it or not there are nursing homes to this day that refuse to allow the strike team to come in and do the testing.” That’s across the state. “I don’t know how many, but the majority have agreed to it.” The testing is also free.
Again he was rebuffed.
Then he got a call today. “I got a call from the corporate chief nursing officer who called me this morning and said Bob, we are very open to the support and help that the department of health is giving us,” Snyder said, quoting the officer, “and please, get us on your schedule as quickly as you can to have the strike team of eight come in.” That’ll be scheduled for either next Tuesday or Friday, with testing of 100 residents and 100 staff members. “I feel so good now, I felt so much better and relieved,” Snyder said.
So far in Flagler just two staff members at the 71 elderly care facilities have tested positive for the virus–at Brookdale Palm Coast (formerly Sterling House) and at Princeton Village of Palm Coast. No resident is known to have the virus, but Snyder is bracing himself for the results of today’s testing, which are expected within 24 to 48 hours.
If positives return, “then we’ll move accordingly,” Snyder said. “If it’s a resident, there’s protocols that are followed for what to do when you have positive residents, like cohorting them into a particular isolated area of the nursing home. Secondly, it is having the same staff members, nurses and CNA’s (or certified nursing assistant), with proper protection, gowns, masks face shields, caring for them so that there’s a dedicated group of staff who take care of the ones who are positive. And of course social distancing to the extreme,” and constant attention to hygiene, proper disposal of PPE equipment, and continuous monitoring of the changing conditions of residents mentally or physically. “Then we go from there.”
As of today’s report by the Florida Department of Health, Flagler County cumulatively has 147 confirmed cases of Covid-19, an increase of 2 in the last 24 hours and nine this week, what would be the lowest weekly total of the last seven weeks (with one day’s reporting to go for the week). But the stepped-up testing at the two nursing homes today is likely to affect the overall numbers.
Grand Oaks has been the center of more than just a few patient and family complaints, even before the virus. I am surprised that they are being allowed to call the shots about anything, let alone something of this magnitude.
There are a few possibilities here.
1. Palm Coast/Flagler had a milder strain (since there are at least a dozen) and people weathered it fairly well and will have antibodies.
2. We were hit earlier, late Nov/Dec through Mar and that caused some of the extra pneumonia deaths during that time not attributed to the flu and people will have antibodies.
3. People really listened to the stay at home order and only the positive tested people and a handful of others had it, leaving a majority of us without antibodies or experiencing COVID.
I will scream for antibody testing until I am the only one left screaming. Right now, it’s the best way to identify how many people in our community was exposed. Forget how long immunity lasts, it’ll never be permanent. There are reliable enough tests to get us to a certain percentage of possible positives or negatives.
Bob Gnobbler says
4. There is not a lot of residents in Flagler.
There is not a real airport, nautical port, vacation destination, enclosed shopping malls,
nor large businesses /factories besides a few retail locations.
Few nursing homes, one larger hospital.
Less people together, less spread.
As far as the November/December comment? So the county of 100k residents was the only one in the entire nation exposed then? That does not make a lot of sense.
It reached the US from the Pacific NW and then NY mainly. Colder weather, damp climates…
Snowbirds from NY/NJ were already here before the virus hit the US.
Thanksgiving and Christmas…Not St Patricks Day.
The only answer is a vaccine.
I don’t know how a healthcare related facility says “No”. I mean, in that industry it’s so highly regulated that you simply can’t say “No” and expect any level of State & Federal Medicaid or Medicare program to even allow them to continue to operate ? The costs of healthcare, as not affordable before are going to increase significantly going forward. If the pandemic was an overreach with the 4 deaths Flagler county has for this so far, the healthcare industry as a whole has signed on to this new age/era of healthcare. Just me, but it’s really unsustainable, who would’ve thought ACA/Obamacare/Trumpcare would’ve become this kludge(kluge) healthcare system of failures.
When I say overreach, I don’t mean to trivialize or discount the 4 that have expired, or those that may in the future be classified as Coronavirus deaths. But without transparency of the cause of death and the way that is being classified & reported in 2020, under & over counting is both highly probable considering the victims are the elderly with pre-existing conditions that are eventual fatal causation(s) of mortality, various morbidities in their own right.
I thought Grand Oaks had been shut down from taking new residents several months ago? There where several discussions on social media about how poorly run this place was. I thought for sure it would have been totally closed down by now!
I have worked in long term facilities for almostc 30 years, unfortunately Grande Oaks has not been able to maintain any kind if consistent leadership in over a decade. That’s my opinion regarding its failures
David S. says
That place is a disgrace after having 3 family members there with no falt of our own they need to be investigated by the state health board.
Mary Fusco says
Agree. I wouldn’t leave my dog there.
They can’t be bothered with this stuff. H-Hannity said it all a hokes!
Maybe the reason that Grand Oaks resisted was because they relied on the Fake Fox news channel for information and let’s not forget, the cult leader, trump, did say that this is a hoax, then he said it would go away in a few days,like a miracle, then he said that maybe ingesting bleach and light therapy would do the trick.
Testing should be mandatory on employees and especially to places like this.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
RN says it all. No exceptions!
Concerned Citizen says
It’s highly suspicious that a health care facility would initially reject testing. Anyone having relatives in this facility may want to check on them. And also check to see that the facility is compliang with protective measures. It’s my understanding that this facility has a less than stellar track record to begin with.
What is wrong with this place? A free offer and Grand Oaks had to think about it?
I, unfortunately, spent a week in this place for rehab following a surgery. Worst excuse of a rehab center on the planet. You are better off going to a real rehab center or have in home rehab at home.
Lance Carroll says
Testing should be done for the vulnerable and caregivers, at least. It is a good pathway to finding out where the virus spread link could be broken.
Who is supposed to be in charge of this place? At least now you know a more competent source to go to in order to get something done. Congrats on your persistence to accomplish your goals.
It is completely absurd that a nursing home would refuse testing unless the focus is to kill the residents. If my parents were in a nursing home that refused testing, they would be out of there immediately and onward to one that cares.
Today’s nursing homes are a disgrace and the care is pitiful unless the residents have children that look out out for them and now the residents can’t have visitors. There are a few nurses that care but most don’t, it a job and only a job to most. If you find good nurses you’ll have happy residents.
This is a disgrace to the medical field and the community. This should not have been allowed. The facility is a disgrace. Staffing is horrible. The food is terrible. Overall the place is a disgrace. It needs new management.
I have a parent in a nursing home in another state. That facility is willingly undergoing testing of all staff as required by state ruled. They are also working on a plan in case they lose a good percentage of staff who test positive and must quarantine. This is what a well-run place would do. PLAN. And then do what is right.
This place is a disgrace it killed two people that I love very much and if I wasn’t disabled in alone I would’ve sued to have been shut down the long take my father’s life because of their negligence and a friend’s husband places in fit to be run or open espThis place is a disgrace a killed two people that I love very much and if I wasn’t disabled and alone I would’ve sued you haven’t shut down and take my father‘s life because of their negligence and friend‘s husband the place is in fact to be run are open a supposed rehab
Mary Fusco says
It is a disgusting hell hole. Flagler hospital which is no better sent my husband there for rehab a few years ago. My daughter is an RN and when she saw it said get him out of here now. He stayed a couple of hours and we took him out against medical advice. Best move ever. Sorry for your losses at the hands of these people.
County medic says
I respond to this place as a paramedic can tell you it is horrible. Nine out of ten times no one known anything about the patient we are called for. “Not my patient” is something we hear nearly every time we go there and the patient care is mostly egregious. Of course there are exceptions. Occasionally there is a good nurse who is ready for us with all the information on the patient. But those good nurses are not there for long.
Name (required) says
Knowing that your patients and or staff definitively have been tested for, and possibly positive for the Rona, is basically exposing the facility to liablilty. That why they didn’t want testing likely. It’s business, not people. Just like the USA. Same principle. Give and take. Simple Facts of reality.
Grand Oaks is a haven of misfits and violations. They inserted a catheter into my dad because they didn’t want to be bother with assisting him ever time he had to urinate and when it fell out they reinserted it without changing it to a sterilize one. This cause an infection and they transfer him to Advent Florida Hospital without notifying us . Within 48 hrs sepsis set in and he die 24 hrs later due to their neglect. When we tried to retrieve my fathers only belongs at grand oaks everything was missing. Including his medical bag with all his credit cards and banking info. My father was a very private man and kept things like bank accounts hidden all over the East Coast. And had his mail at multiple location unknown to me. So i never could report anything and Grand Oaks response was we don’t know where it is. Well it was right beside his bed everytime I visited daily .It must of grown legs and ran away before it killed the bag too. I loath that place
Does the County have any long term plans for making sure that COVID stays out of the Long Term facilities in Flagler County? In addition, has the County checked the Jail for COVID? Since Flagler’s Jail does not have a reputable history for caring for the prisoners, there should be some oversight of the prisoners since this is a place of close quarters.