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Suncoast physicians and nursing homes work to protect seniors from coronavirus

By Taylor Torregano | March 4, 2020 at 6:55 PM EST - Updated March 5 at 2:36 PM

SARASOTA (WWSB) - There are currently 13 states across the country with confirmed cases of the coronavirus and so far it’s proved deadliest among the elderly population. In Florida, there are more than 245 people under monitoring for the virus. To help prevent the spread along the Suncoast, a number of assisted living facilities are taking the necessary precautions to protect our seniors.

“I have to be careful,” said Ms. Elizabeth “Ann” Kreul, a senior in Sarasota. Ms. Ann read the headline “3rd case of virus in Florida confirmed" in Wednesday’s newspaper, but her home healthcare giver says she rest assured, there’s no reason for fear. “Cautious, aware, alert, but not panicking," said Paulina Testerman, Kreul’s home healthcare giver said. Because of her age, they are taking several precautions to protect Ms. Ann. In Washington State, seven of the nine people who have died from Covid-19 lived in a nursing home.

“That’s the benefit of being in a home is you’re just not exposed the way you are in other places," said Testerman.

That’s also why Manatee Senior Care is making what they consider crucial house calls to check elderly people who are ill and want to confirm it’s not coronavirus.

“If someone’s been to China or South Korea or Italy or Iran, they’re the ones we worry about,” Dr. James Floyd told Ms. Ann. "Then, if patients have been in contact with them, then we look to make sure that they’re not getting sick. By sick, we worry about patients who have a bad cough, or shortness of breath and a fever.”

Local senior living facilities said they’re encouraging good hygiene and implementing other safety measures, too. Some, like Westminster Manor in Bradenton, are even limiting visitors and taking their temperatures. The vast majority are asking all residents to cough or sneeze in their sleeves and avoid close contact with anyone showing signs of illness. “It’s very important,” Ms. Ann said.

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