July 11, 2020
State halts admissions to Miami nursing home over inability to stem spread of COVID

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State halts admissions to Miami nursing home over inability to stem spread of COVID

Amy Keller | 5/11/2020

Fair Havens Center, a nursing home in Miami Springs, has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Miami-Dade County and is among the hardest hit in the state. As of last week, 58 residents and 32 staff members have tested positive and eight have died, according to state data. Thirty-eight residents have been transferred out of the facility after contracting the virus.

In an emergency order issued Friday, the state halted admissions to Fair Havens, stating that the facility has “demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to ensure that its practices minimize the risk of contagion within the Facility.”

The 12-page order signed by Mary Mahew, secretary of the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration, describes a facility in disarray and failing to take proper precautions to prevent the spread of the highly contagious virus.

During a May 6 visit to the facility, state employees found that 11 COVID-19 positive patients were sharing rooms with patients who were not positive ­­— and "at least 15 COVID-19 negative residents were exposed to the COVID-19 due the placement” of those 11 residents. Patients who hadn’t been tested for the virus were not being isolated, even when known exposures had occurred, the document says.

The emergency order provides a rare ­glimpse inside the Miami Springs long-term care facility, which has been on lockdown since February.

In some instances, health care workers failed to wear the proper protective equipment (PPE), or did not remove it after patient care so as to “preserve PPE stocks,” according to the state order. Food trays used by residents in isolation areas were commingled with other trays for cleaning and soiled laundry from COVID-19 patients traveled down the same laundry chute as “non COVID-19 resident laundry." The facility’s infection control nurse was not keeping a surveillance map of infections within the facility, the order notes.

On Sunday, Fair Havens began transferring dozens of residents to Hialeah Hospital, according to a Local 10 News reportMayhew told the TV station the transfers are key to containing outbreaks in nursing homes with semi-private rooms so that “two cases do not become 20 or five become 50.”

Fair Havens isn’t the only nursing home to come under state scrutiny for its handling of COVID-19.

On April 17, Mahew signed a “moratorium on admissions” to Cross Landings Health and Rehabilitation Center in Monticello, a town near Tallahassee. The Florida Department of Health suspended the licenses of the nursing home’s two administrators the same day.

During a series of visits to the facility in April, state employees found that four residents suspected of having COVID-19 had not been placed in isolation, staff were not properly screening visitors to the facility and at least one staff member continued to work while showing symptoms. Gloves and hand sanitizer were also in short supply and the use of PPE by staff was sporadic.

Thirteen staff members at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19 as of May 9, according to state data.

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