Suwannee Health and Rehab: We're 'taking out all stops to do the right thing'

Published: Apr. 16, 2020 at 10:55 PM EDT
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By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News

April 16, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – A manager for a healthcare facility battling an outbreak of COVID-19 defended the center's actions Thursday in an interview with WCTV.

Kristen Tuten, a regional nurse consultant for Suwannee Health and Rehabilitation, said management was "taking every precaution" to prevent the spread of coronavirus and training staff to handle the crisis.

"We definitely prepared them for what to expect with this pandemic," she said.

This interview came after WCTV reached out several times to management for answers, and after reported claims from both a current and former employee about the center's handling of the virus outbreak.

after positive cases emerged from the property. She accused her bosses of making poor decisions that didn't protect residents.

Tuten dismissed those remarks.

"That is just speculation at this point," Tuten said. "We have always and will continue to use state and federal guidelines to guide us in the treatment of our residents and associates."

Kinsey also claimed a boss told her that working with confirmed cases wouldn't endanger her. Tuten said that's a misrepresentation, and all staff were well protected.

"We put forth all effort to prevent any kind of transmission of this disease," she said. "It minimizes exposure if you wear the appropriate PPE which has always been readily available to our associates."

Nurses allegedly were told to hide or ignore health updates, like fevers, in computer logs, according to Kinsey.

Tuten denied that.

"We have always used state and federal guidelines for temperature reporting and we've always been on top of that and reacted in the appropriate way to accommodate those residents," she said.

As for family members of residents seeking updates, she said anyone with concerns could call the facility and receive information.

In a phone call Thursday night, Live Oak City Council member Don Allen said he was skeptical despite those reassurances. The facility resides in his district.

"I don't know how it could balloon to what it was from one...with all due care being taken," he said.

Tuten confirmed positive patients are living in the facility in isolated spaces. Residents without the disease are confined to their rooms but are living their lives as normal, she said.

It's unknown how many of the confirmed cases in Suwannee County are connected to Suwannee Health and Rehab. However, in a news briefing last Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis released numbers that put the figure at close to 90%.

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