SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ for the first month
SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ for the first month

'I don't want to die': Almost three dozen coronavirus cases now at Florida State Hospital

Nada Hassanein Tallahassee Democrat
Walton Sun

Almost three dozen people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at Florida State Hospital, the state’s largest mental health hospital, located in Chattahoochee.

The state's Department of Children and Families, which runs the hospital, reported 34 positive cases as of Wednesday. The number is adjusted “as people recover,” a spokeswoman said.

Wednesday afternoon, it listed online the number of positive cases for the mental health treatment facilities that it oversees. But that information has been missing from that web page; in fact, earlier in the day it wasn't listed.

“We have cases of the coronavirus here at the hospital and they’re trying to cover it up … they’re being 'hush, hush' about it," one anonymous resident in the hospital's forensic unit said in a voicemail left at the Tallahassee Democrat's newsroom.

Admissions were suspended April 1-May 31. The facility keeps "at least a two-week supply" of personal protective equipment (PPE) on hand, according to a statement from DCF, and new residents must test negative and be quarantined for 14 days before entering a treatment unit.

"Since early April, there have been routine PPE disbursements to FSH staff, which occur every Monday and Thursday. If an employee’s PPE becomes damaged in the interim, they are issued replacements immediately," the statement says.

Currently, there are 10 isolation beds, along with 16 beds in the forensic treatment unit, and another 16 for non-forensic patients in the hospital, roughly 45 miles northwest of Tallahassee.

Unlike the state's online list of cases at long-term care facilities, DCF's list does not specify how many of the mental-health hospitals' cases are among staff and how many are residents. It also doesn't list if there were any COVID-19-related deaths tied to the facility.

In her voicemail, the resident said she doesn't feel safe at the hospital. Caller ID shows the call came from inside the facility.

"I am very scared for my life here. I’m so scared for my life here. They’re not doing anything but passing out masks to protect us. They’re not cleaning this place properly. They even stopped feeding us like they’re supposed to," she said.

Before hanging up, she asked, "Please, please, please come check on us. Come do something — let it be known.

"... I don’t want to die in this place."

Reach Nada Hassanein at nhassanein@tallahassee.com or on Twitter @nhassanein_.