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Lee Health prepares for possible uptick in COVID-19 cases at nursing homes

Lee Health is preparing for the worst at Southwest Florida’s nursing homes after a state agency sent a warning that coronavirus cases could surge.

We heard from Lee Health leaders during a board of directors call Thursday about how they’re planning for a possible uptick in COVID-19 cases at those nursing homes and other types of care facilities in the region.

“As of yesterday’s numbers, the death rate in Lee County was 89 and the death rate in Lee Health was 67,” said Therese Everly, who is on the Lee Health board of directors. “Once we looked at it, 58 of those deaths were from skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities. That is a high rate.”

And those numbers were alarming to Lee Health, CEO Dr. Larry Antonucci and the Secretary of the Agency for Health Care Administration.

“She’s very concerned that the region is going to be a hot spot of nursing home challenges,” Antonucci said.

Now, Lee Health and Agency for Health Care Administration are working on a plan to handle what could be a second spike in cases.

“Some of those nursing homes are not going to have the appropriate adequate isolation procedures,” Antonucci said. “We’ve been talking to them about the potential of setting up [COVID-19]-only units.”

Antonucci also discussed worse-case-scenario possibilities.

“There may be a situation where AHCA may come in and shut a nursing home down and have to evacuate all their patients,” Antonucci said.

Plans for COVID-19-only units remain preliminary. We expect more updates at the next Lee Health board meeting.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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