Tallahassee, Florida- July 30, 2012
After a higher than usual number of TB cases among the homeless in Northeast Florida, other areas of the state have begun testing the homeless for the disease. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, state health officials are also releasing a coordinated treatment plan they call a model for the state.
Antonio Lockridge is homeless.
“Bad circumstances in California,” Lockridge said. “Lost my home, lost my job.”
Antonio was one of the first to be tested for TB by a Tallahassee health clinic set up next door to a homeless shelter after a spike in cases among homeless in Jacksonville. The staff at this clinic are quick to point out that their effort shouldn’t be a surprise.
“You’re always going to have some TB,” nurse Lucille Jones said. “Always.”
The state also released this detailed system-wide response plan, followed by a conference call in which health officials emphasized the number of TB cases is declining every year.
“The rate of Tuberculosis in Florida is coming down in 2012,” Florida Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong said.
Last year there were 753 TB cases in Florida. So far this year there have been 284.
Ashley Turbin, homeless after a trip to jail, came in to be tested after she slept in a packed homeless shelter.
“Where I sleep at is in the roll-away beds, and you’re like scrunched up like sardines. Probably about 25 women in that one room,” Turbin said.
TB is curable once detected. Severe cases can require isolation. The state just closed AG Holly; it was the last TB hospital in America. Future cases will go to hospitals or select boarding houses.