More than 30 deaths reported at Freedom Square of Seminole

The first week of May was a tragic one for a Seminole nursing facility. Thirteen more residents of Freedom Square of Seminole died between May 2-7 from COVID-19, according to District 6 Medical Examiner’s office reports.

SEMINOLE — The first week of May was a tragic one for a Seminole nursing facility. Thirteen more residents of Freedom Square of Seminole died between May 2-7 from COVID-19, according to District 6 Medical Examiner’s office reports.

The total number of dead residents and patients is at least 30 as of May 12. One staff member has also died after being infected by the coronavirus, according to the facility’s executive director, Michael Mason.

A Florida Department of Health report that compiles a list of deaths at long-term care facilities shows that the death toll at the sprawling Seminole campus that includes independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities would mean it is likely the largest in the state by far.

In an email to Tampa Bay Newspapers on May 11, Mason said 36 staff members are currently infected, 595 had tested negative and 10 results were still pending.

On May 4, Mason said 42 employees had tested positive. When asked about the discrepancy, Mason said, “The reason for the reduction is that staff that were positive previously are no longer positive and have returned to work.”

According to a DOH report compiled daily, almost 110 residents and staff have tested positive for the virus. The information is reported by each facility’s staff to the department via the Agency for Health Care Administration’s Emergency Status System.

The most recent deaths were:

• A 99-year-old man who was taken to Morton Plant Hospital on April 27. The medical examiner’s report states he was doing well until May 5, when his health “rapidly deteriorated,” and he was pronounced dead May 7.

• A 99-year-old woman on April 16 was taken to Northside Hospital, where she had difficulty breathing. She tested negative twice for COVID-19 and was taken to Kindred Hospital where her health declined. On May 5, she tested positive for COVID-19, and she died on May 7.

• Four residents — a 94-year-old woman, a 73-year-old woman, a 92-year-old man, a 70-year-old woman, and an 87-year-old woman — all died on May 6.

• An 86-year-old woman and 75-year-old man died May 5, a 79-year-old woman and 90-year-old woman died May 4, an 85-year-old woman died May 3, and a 98-year-old man died May 2.

On April 21, Mason said a total of 54 residents and patients had tested positive at the building at the source of the outbreak, Seminole Pavilion Rehabilitation. In response to the rapid spread of the disease, officials evacuated at least 95 patients of the building April 17 to area hospitals and facilities.

The facility’s first resident to test positive was April 9, and the first to die as a result of the coronavirus was a 74-year-old man on April 11.

Other outbreaks

Another death was also reported May 5 at St. Mark Village in Palm Harbor, bringing the total at that facility to nine.

St. Mark Village has faced a similar outbreak since the virus entered the Palm Harbor facility through its skilled nursing home April 10, according to CEO Doug Fresh.

According to the DOH, 28 residents and 12 staff members have tested positive at the site.

The latest resident to die was a 77-year-old man who had a fever and cough and was transported to Mease Countryside Hospital on April 20. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 with pneumonia and died May 5.

On May 1, Fresh said he intended to ramp up testing efforts by bringing in AdventHealth’s mobile testing unit May 4 and to disinfect its skilled rehab and skilled nursing facilities.

A May 6 update on the facility’s website said the cleaning process at the rehab center, which served as its COVID-19 unit, was finished. Decontamination of the 80-bed skilled nursing facility was expected to be completed by May 9.

More cases have also been reported at roughly 30 facilities in Pinellas County, including 17 at Carrington House of St. Pete, 13 at Patrick Manor in St. Petersburg and 11 at Pinellas Point Nursing and Rehab Center in St. Petersburg.

The Inn at Lake Seminole Square has also reported three cases, according to the DOH.