GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — All staff at Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee are being tested for COVID-19 after the Department of Children and Families announced that four patients have died from the virus.
DCF Secretary Chad Poppell released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
It is with great sadness that I share the passing of four residents of Florida State Hospital (FSH) from COVID-19.
Since March, the department has implemented critical mitigation strategies, such as suspending visitation and admissions, increased supplies of personal protective equipment, symptom screening of staff and residents, enhanced disinfecting and sanitation practices, mandatory testing, and isolation and quarantine protocols to keep this virus out of our facilities, and perhaps, most importantly, away from our already vulnerable residents.
I want to reassure the family, friends, and loved ones of the residents and staff at all Florida mental health treatment facilities that I do not take these deaths lightly. I have deployed DCF executive leadership to FSH to conduct an immediate assessment of onsite operations. I have also requested to have the Department of Health (DOH) Incident Management Team visit the facility to provide clinical support and recommendations to guard against the further transmission of the virus among staff and residents. These specialists are scheduled to arrive tomorrow. It is important to note that the DOH and Agency for Healthcare Administration has been on-site and advising the department since the early stages of this pandemic.
Additionally, I have ordered mandatory testing for both staff and residents at FSH this week which started on Monday, July 26. Any staff testing positive will require a negative test result before returning to work and must quarantine in accordance with DOH guidelines in the meantime. Residents who are positive will be relocated to quarantine units until a negative test result is received.
The department will continue consult with our partners to protect those in our care and keep our workforce safe.