By Selene Raj
When one family heard the Tamarac Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center where their family member is cared for would be welcoming a Covid-19 isolation unit, they were confused– and a bit frustrated.
They didn’t feel it was possible to house Covid-19-positive patients safely while making sure it didn’t spread to the vulnerable elderly residents.
Then, not much later, they were notified their loved-one tested positive for Covid-19 — confirming their worst fears.
Like many people, Josh (not his real name) and his family immediately had questions, and almost a week later, don’t feel those questions have been answered to their satisfaction.
Josh’s great-grandmother, 89, has been living in the facility for five years and hasn’t been able to have visitors as a result of the pandemic precautions.
This is the part of what makes the situation so frustrating for him — families had been sacrificing time with their loved ones to protect them from Covid-19, and now feel that the facility is not doing the same.
Josh doesn’t blame those who work at the facility — he just wants answers.
“The officials there have been very responsive and are not rude or anything. I don’t mean at any point to criticize the nurses who work so hard at their jobs,” he said. “It’s frustrating that she got Covid-19 in the first place, given that no one was allowed to visit her.”
On July 20, Local 10 news announced the facility would be welcoming seniors recovering from Covid-19, in an isolation wing, and that CEO Andrew Weisman was behind that voluntary decision. Just a few days later, they reported on July 24, the number of cases had tripled.
Three days later, the Florida Department of Health reported the facility with 42 positive Covid-19 cases– a drastically sharp increase.
Some facility officials have told families that the number is incorrect, which has left them perplexed. To make matters more confusing, his aunt said she was told by a nurse, “well, everyone has it now.” The facility later backtracked on her comment, he said.
“The rehab center staff denies [the numbers] and say they don’t even have that many residents, but I don’t see why the record would be wrong. Plus, either way, it seems like literally, all the residents got Covid-19,” he said.
With the sharp increase in cases, Josh and his family feel alarmed.
He says that he wishes the officials would be more transparent about how so many of the residents seemed to have gotten Covid-19.
“Was it because of the isolation wing set up? Even if not, how did it get to so many residents?” he asked.
He says that without regular access and visits to his great-grandmother, they can’t be doing the routine checks to ensure her already-challenged health is being tended to.
According to the July 27 Florida Department of Health Report, two residents had died of Covid-19, though it didn’t say when those deaths occurred.
Initially, Josh and his family speculated that the decision to have a Covid-19 unit must have been driven by money. However, the CEO claims it was not, and in his statement to Local 10, he said it was motivated by the desire to help with the surge in demand for hospital beds.
“We don’t know enough to know if money truly drove the decision. Regardless, if the virus spread from the isolation wing, that decision had a clear cost.”
Tamarac Talk tried to contact officials at Tamarac Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center but was told that the person who could comment was not present. On July 28, another attempt was made to contact them. They responded by hanging up the phone.
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- Selene Raj is a writer and a Florida International University graduate. Born in Trinidad and raised in America, she completed her Master's in Mass Communications in 2020, and has been living in Coral Springs since 2004. She is passionate about the communities she lives and works in and loves reporting and sharing stories that are as complex and meaningful as the people who live in them.