A day after U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell said she was possibly exposed to COVID-19 while visiting Crystal Health & Rehab Center in Tavernier, the facility issued a message on Friday to family and friends amid growing concerns over safety and issues over communication.
To date, 15 residents and seven staff members inside the long-term care facility have tested positive for COVID-19. With 73 patients currently inside the building, the facility owner says 57 have come back negative. One case remained pending as of Thursday evening.
The facility, in its statement, said that the positive residents are in isolation with dedicated employees taking care of them. Since the pandemic, the facility said it has ample supplies of PPE and is not seeing any shortages.
The statement also goes on to address the phone system after numerous complaints sparked over dropped calls and busy signals. The facility says it installed a brand new phone system in place with a designated hotline for family to call for updates.
In consultation with various agencies, a retesting of all patients and staff was conducted.
“The Department of Health and the laboratories have advised us that we should have the results at the end of next week,” the facility said. “As soon as they release the results we will let you know.”
The first positive case out of the long-term care facility was reported earlier this month of a speech pathologist who lives locally. A state strike team subsequently entered the facility to conduct some 150 tests.
As results came back, those found positive were notified, as well as their families. But a number of families had heard nothing for more than a week. Some waited as long as 12 days with results still waiting from a commercial lab. Among those awaiting results back was Jennifer Baker, mother of 30-year-old Brittany, who resides at the facility.
Baker told Mucarsel-Powell during a May 19 meeting that she was told her daughter’s results were inconclusive as they were “damaged.” She said the communication at the outset from the administration at the facility has been “honestly disgusting,” while testing has been a “joke.”
“I’ve gotten the administrator on the phone one time,” Baker said.
She also said staff aren’t wearing gowns and face shields.
The facility owner said they reached out to Mucarsel-Powell following the news that she might have been exposed during a brief visit. No visitors are currently allowed inside the facility with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.