Florida State Hospital employees speak out after working in COVID-19 unit

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 3:05 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - As of Thursday, August 6, 132 staff and 121 residents at the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee had tested positive for COVID-19.

With more than 250 cases, employees are frustrated; many tell WCTV that they are being forced to work in COVID units without any choice.

Those in the Medical Services Unit were told they would never have to work with the quarantine unit, but now the tables are turning.

“They don’t tell us anything, they just move us and tell us this is what we got to do and we got to do it,” said Jacqueline Jefferson, who has spent 18 years at the Florida State Hospital Medical Services Unit.

Jefferson found out that she had COVID on July 22. That was after she and other members of the Medical Services Unit were moved to the specialty care unit.

There, they can see up to 35 patients a day, who may or may not have the virus.

“They give us face masks, surgical face masks, gowns, shoe covers the hair cover and gloves,” she said. “Even though you are taking precaution, people are coughing, spitting, everything and you have to be in close contact with them.”

It is a responsibility Robin Anderson, who has worked three years at FSH, says she did not sign up for.

“We was told that we wasn’t going to be involved with the COVID and we were only going to deal with our unit in specific,” Anderson said.

Anderson tells us that COVID has led to a staffing shortage; some employees have resigned and others are at home quarantining, which leaves employees, like her, to work days on end, with little to no break, tending to COVID-positive residents.

Anderson shares, “It makes us feel like we are not nothing, we are not appreciated.”

The hope is that leadership provides transparency and protection.

Anderson wants to know what they will be faced with before entering the double doors, saying, “I am very fearful for my life. And I am fearful for everyone else involved in this because we all have families and we should have a choice, whether we want to go in a bed dying COVID unit, rather than somebody make the choice for us.”

Both Anderson and Jefferson say they have now been given proper PPE. However, they agree, that the main issue is that employees are moving from ward to ward, and dealing with any and all patients, not knowing their COVID history.

On July 26, the hospital says that they began mandatory testing for staff and residents.

At this time, Jefferson is still awaiting her test results before returning to work.

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