State health agency halts admission to Grace Manor at Lake Morton and issues scathing report amid COVID-19 outbreak at facility, saying "immediate serious danger" exists at the Lakeland assisted-living facility.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration has ordered a Lakeland assisted-living facility to cease accepting new residents over concerns about COVID-19 exposure.
AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew issued the immediate moratorium on admissions order Tuesday for Grace Manor at Lake Morton, a facility that specializes in residents with dementia.
The action centered on the facility’s failure to isolate a resident who had tested positive for COVID-19 and on lapses in hygiene measures by the facility’s staff. The directive said "an immediate serious danger to public health, safety or welfare" existed at Grace Manor.
The 14-page order says that all Grace Morton residents were tested for the coronavirus on May 22 and that by Monday 33 had been hospitalized after positive test results.
That total has risen to 37, according to a report from the Florida Department of Health. Five staff members have also tested positive.
The state sent a Florida National Guard strike team to Grace Manor on Saturday to assist in providing proper care and to reduce the risk of further contagion, the order says.
AHCA’s order gives this description: A resident who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 was seen Monday seated in a common dining area awaiting lunch. Three other residents and three staff members were also in the room.
None of the residents wore any protective gear, and the staff members were only wearing masks. The common area isn’t large enough to allow for safe distancing with so many people present.
AHCA representatives said staff members did not consistently wear gloves, wash their hands between resident care and other services or change masks between episodes of resident care.
When asked why the previously infected resident was allowed in the common area, a Grace Manor administrator said the resident’s tendency to wander made isolation impossible. The administrator claimed not to be aware of all the state directives requiring personal use of protective equipment by staff members.
The resident was transferred to a hospital the same day, the report says.
The order says Grace Manor had no policy or procedure for isolating residents who had been in contact with someone known to be infected.
Mayhew’s order harshly criticized the management of Grace Manor for its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It said the facility had failed to meet state licensing standards and that the failures were not isolated events but system deficiencies.
"These failures constitute a general demonstrated disregard of the recommended actions to minimize the risk of infection," the order said.
Grace Manor’s management emailed this statement to The Ledger:
"Due to isolation protocols, we are not admitting new residents at this time per our agreement with AHCA. We have notified resident families and staff, and are continuing to aggressively follow CDC, state and local health agency guidelines and recommendations for full disinfection and safety protocols. This insidious and highly contagious virus remains a challenge for everyone who cares for those who are sick or vulnerable. Nothing has ever been more important to us than taking care of our residents, their families and our staff."
Grace Manor has the right to a hearing on AHCA’s actions, the order says.
This story originally published to theledger.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.