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Florida AARP prepares to keep nursing home patients safe from coronavirus

Posted at 6:17 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-03 19:49:20-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The World Health Organization released new data showing the elderly face a significantly higher risk of contracting coronavirus.

Following that release, Florida AARP issued a call to action to help protect elderly nursing home patients.

AARP wants to make sure the nursing home facilities you trust to care for your loved ones are fully stocked with the right supplies to prevent the spread of the disease.

"The early information is that for this disease, the fatality rate for coronavirus with older people in China was 10 times as high as it was for the overall population," said David Brunes, a spokesperson for AARP.

Florida AARP wants to keep the Sunshine State from reaching similar numbers. That’s why they're calling on state officials to drive funding towards keeping all nursing homes fully equipped with the high level supplies needed to prevent coronavirus transmission.

"There’s protective gear those institutions need to have available," Brunes said. "One of the challenges is supplies of things, such as high level protective masks."

Administrators at one nursing home in the Capitol participated in a conference call with Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday about measures to help keep them prepared.

They said some of the directives from that meeting are to make sure that they update their visitor policies and have signage on their doors.

As for supplies, Joanne Watson, an administrator, says they've ordered specialized equipment that will be in place within 24 hours.

"We added on extra protective equipment, protective gear, so in the event that anybody gets exposed we would have additional gear to do an isolation," said Watson. "But most and foremost we're trying to make sure that all of our visitors, and all of our staff, and all of our family members are educated on the prevention."

“It’s very important to protect healthcare workers, and hospitals, and nursing homes, and assisted living facilities when they’re taking care of very vulnerable patients," Brunes said. "Not only for their own sake, but for the safety of the healthcare workers, to limit transmission within one of those facilities."

Brunes and Watson also want to remind people who may plan to visit the elderly in nursing homes to try digital options like Skype or FaceTime if they have recently traveled to a high risk area or experience symptoms associated with coronavirus.