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Nursing homes with most COVID-19 cases have history of infection control problems

Diana Bortle said she has been anxious ever since finding out her mother Shirley tested positive for COVID-19.

Shirley Cliff is one of 52 positive cases associated with Manorcare Nursing and Rehabilitation in Naples.

The facility has more cases than any other in Collier County and the second-highest number of cases in Southwest Florida.

Sixteen of the nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Southwest Florida that have had at least one case of COVID-19 have something else in common: a deficiency for infection control found in the past year.

WINK News reviewed nursing home data from the centers for Medicaid studies and found sixteen places given the same deficiency tag: “Provide and implement an infection prevention and control program.”

A facility in Fort Myers that received this deficiency in July, is now reporting 76 cases of COVID-19 according to the Department of Health.

A Charlotte county nursing home cited in March 2019, has 49 COVID-19 Cases.

At the Manorcare facility where Bortle’s mother Shirley is staying in Naples, five residents who contracted the virus died.

A review of Manorcare’s January inspection report from the Agency on Healthcare Administration stated that the facility was not minimizing the risk of waterborne pathogens. It also reported that Manorcare staff was not transporting linens in a way to prevent the spread of infection and employees were not using personal protective equipment when handling contaminated waste.

Government records indicate Manorcare corrected problems by February.

A Manorcare spokesperson said by email: “this center does not have any infection control issues.”

In fact, the government data shows that all 16 facilities that WINK News located with this deficiency reported correcting their problems.

Bortle questioned whether or not that actually happened at Manorcare.

“They might have had a plan, but did they implement it? It doesn’t look like they implemented it from all of the COVID cases that they’ve had,” she said.

Dallas based medical malpractice attorney Kay Van Wey said nursing homes having a problem with the coronavirus most likely already had a problem with infection control.

“The question I would have in (Cliff’s) case, is how was she exposed? Was she exposed because it just couldn’t be helped or was she exposed because the nursing home didn’t follow proper infection control procedures,” said Van Wey.

The first case at the Naples Manorcare facility was April 10.

But according to the Department of Health, the facility waited three days to have other residents at the facility tested.

Bortle said her mother was not tested until late April and it took even longer to test 100 percent of the residents, according to information relayed to her from Manorcare.

“We have been symptom monitoring and checking since March. Any patients with symptoms, we would test,” wrote Julie Beckert, a spokesperson for Manorcare.

“Now tests are much more readily available, and the department of health did select our Naples center to have full house testing. The Department of Health used the national guard to do the testing. We 100 percent support full house testing wherever we can get the supplies to do it. It helps us understand what is happening in the center and react quicker,” she said.

Reporter:Lauren Sweeney
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