MIAMI SPRINGS (CBSMiami) – A grieving loved one says she is alarmed by the high number of cases of COVID-19 at a Miami Springs nursing home and says her brother-in-law died from the coronavirus after contracting it at the home.
Carmen Marin also wonders how her brother-in-law, 79-year-old Jose Garcia, picked up the virus since she says the Fair Havens Center on Curtis Parkway had been on lockdown for at least seven weeks.
The city manager says the center serves as both a nursing home and an assisted living facility.
Marin told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that Garcia was diagnosed with the coronavirus on Monday April 27. She said he was moved to another floor and developed problems breathing problems on Thursday and was given oxygen. She said he was taken to Hialeah Hospital on Thursday where he was placed in an induced coma and was intubated, but she says he died on Friday.
Statistics from the State Health Department show that the Fair Havens Center has the highest number of cases for a nursing home in Miami-Dade. There are 121 cases at the home – 71 involved current residents, 19 others have been transferred out and 31 staff members have the virus. The state says there have been three deaths at the center from the virus and a fourth case is under investigation.
Marin said, “It is very sad. No one should have to go this way where you cannot have a family member next to you where you can hold their hand or say goodbye. There is no closure.”
She added, “They did not allow any family members or visitors to go in after the first week of March or the last week of February or around that time. Since that time nobody else but the workers have been tested for that. They were tested when they found out that many of the older people in nursing homes had tested positive. That is when they started to get afraid and that’s when they started testing. So that’s horrible and it should have never happened like that.”
“It’s a horrible thing,” she said. “We know we all have to did but under these circumstances it is terrible. No one should have to go through pain like this. There are many people there who will get sick or who may die. He was a lovable person. We was a happy person and always had a smile on his face for everybody.”
Marin told D’Oench that her family is considering legal action.
CBS4 reached out to the nursing home for a statement but did not hear back. In the past, a spokesman said the higher numbers were the result of “diligent” and “vigorous” testing.
Also Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that 50 National Guard teams would pro-actively start going in to long-term care facilities to try to identify clusters of infections, particularly for asymptomatic staff members.
“The problem is you don’t always show symptoms when you are infected. You can do temperature checks and it’s important. It does help but it is not enough. So we started to see with long-term care facilities where we didn’t know if staff members were sick and it would spread like wildfire,” he said.
Miami Springs Mayor Billy Bain told CBS4 that this is the worst situation he has ever seen at a Miami Springs nursing home.
“Well the most important thing is to get information out to family members of the loved ones so they can know what is going on,” he said. “The county, state and the feds are involved with this. As time goes on it seems like this is more and more of an organized situation. Nothing like this has gone on before.”
He says there are very few other reported cases in Miami Springs.
“Hopefully we can find out how many people have recovered so we can get through this and get the information and see how this disease can be beaten and fix people when they are sick,” he said.
The mayor and city manager will continue monitoring this case.
Recent figures released by the state showed that the Fair Havens Center had the second highest number of cases among nursing homes in the state, surpassed only by another home in Pensacola. However, those figures are changing by the week.