Okeechobee Health Care Facility staff member tests positive for COVID-19

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee Health Care Facility has confirmed that a staff member has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The woman has been hospitalized.

“We received confirmation that one of our staff members was diagnosed with COVID-19 today,” said Jennifer Williamson on Tuesday afternoon (April 21). “We want to express our heartfelt concern for our staff member; our thoughts are with the individual at this difficult time.

“We are in close communication with the health department,” she explained. “We were originally informed that they would be on site to test all potentially exposed residents and staff. Later today, the health department advised us they would not be on site to test unless and until a resident presents with active symptoms as they do not have enough testing kits. We are closely monitoring both residents and staff for all signs and symptoms, and will keep the health department apprised.

“We secured the unit where the positive staff member was working, and only staff assigned to that unit are permitted entrance,” she continued. “All residents on that unit will be quarantined for 14 days. We will assess the residents throughout the day and night for any symptoms related to COVID-19 and take appropriate steps should any such symptoms present.

“All staff will be screened upon presentation for work as well as throughout the workday for symptoms. All staff are wearing full PPEs (personal protective equipment) as directed by the CDC. At present, we can report that no residents or staff on the quarantined unit are presenting with any COVID-19 symptoms.

“As resident safety is our top priority, we are doing everything we can to help stop the spread of COVID-19, including staying in very close communication with the local and state health officials to ensure we are taking all appropriate steps,” Ms. Williamson continued. “We have restricted visitors and our staff are donning the appropriate PPE in accordance with regulatory requirements. We continue to follow CDC guidelines and adhere to all protocols for pre-screening residents prior to any admission, infection control techniques and personal protective equipment recommendations.

“We fully recognize how difficult this time is for our staff, residents and for their loved ones, who have been restricted from any physical contact with beloved family members. Working in conjunction with all appropriate authorities, we are doing everything we can to minimize the risk of exposure to all of our residents and our staff and will continue to do so until this threat has subsided,” she said.

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