Orange County

Families demand better communication from Ocoee nursing home dealing with COVID-19 outbreak with protests, letters

OCOEE, Fla. — EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story included incorrect information provided by the Orange County Health Department. No staff members from Ocoee Health Care Center have died from COVID-19. You can read the center’s full statement to Channel 9 at the bottom of this article.

People with family members living in a local nursing home want more accountability in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic where eight people have died.

The group staged a protest Sunday, asking for “better care and communication.”

‘It’s hard on a family’: Families say they’re struggling with lack of info about Orange County nursing home COVID-19 outbreak

Channel 9 first reported three weeks ago that the facility was experiencing a coronavirus outbreak. Later, family members said they had no idea their loved ones got sick.

Family members of residents said they were shocked to learn the news, and this is the kind of information they're protesting to get.

Husband of woman living in Orange County nursing home where 5 have died from COVID-19 outbreak frustrated by lack of information

They said despite issues with communication, things haven't improved.

“I mean she doesn’t even have a telephone in her room,” said Wanda Beaulac. “She has the cellphone, which it doesn’t work half the time. It dies on her. She can’t keep it plugged in and talk at the same time. And we haven’t been able to get a phone in to her.”

Beaulac said the center recently informed families they could send packages via Amazon.

‘She was full of life’: Grandmother in Ocoee nursing home with ‘significant outbreak’ dies from COVID-19

And in a statement Friday, a spokesperson said “Ocoee has always and will continue to provide our families with current information on their loved ones.”

Beaulac and others claim that is not true.

In late July, county officials said 66 residents had tested positive, 22 were hospitalized and six had died.

COVID-19 outbreak reported in Ocoee assisted living facility

Beaulac said the last time she spoke with an employee, she was told the situation was improving.

Click here to read Ocoee Health Care’s response

Debra Brunson has an uncle, World War II U.S. Army veteran Willie Oliver. She recently sent a letter to the executive director of the Board of Nursing Administrators at the Florida Department of Health.

In it, she highlights a recent story by Eyewitness News on numerous families’ complaints of them not being contacted regarding the COVID-19 outbreak in the health care center.

Brunson said she is appalled with the nursing home’s response.

Read Ocoee Health Care’s latest statement to Channel 9 below:

“Ocoee Health Care Center has been made aware of a recent reporting that the facility experienced two employee deaths due to COVID-19. This is yet another error in information reporting by our local county health department. The Ocoee leadership team spoke with the epidemiology department at the Orange County Health Department to inquire about this reporting. They were able to confirm that the data was input incorrectly on their end and that as of today, it has been correctly updated to reflect zero employee deaths due to COVID-19. Ocoee Health Care Center expresses gratitude to the Florida Health Care Association for their continued support and assistance in getting the inaccurate data corrected on the Department of Health database. This database releases the statewide report that is updated weekly. We received confirmation that the corrected information will be reflected after the scheduled report update on Friday.”