ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - More than 50 people tested positive for COVID-19 after an outbreak at a St. Petersburg nursing home.
For the Nguyen family, it all happened so fast.
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Seventy-five-year-old Ap Nguyen was taken to St. Petersburg General Hospital on June 18 after testing positive for COVID-19 at his long-term care facility, Apollo Health and Rehabilitation Center. Just two days later, one of Nguyen’s sons got a phone call saying the family's beloved patriarch passed away on Father’s Day.
“It was a day of a rollercoaster of emotion,” said son Sonny Nguyen. “We honestly thought we had more time with my Dad.”
Sonny Nguyen said his father worked hard to give his family a good life. Once a member of the Vietnamese Navy, the elder Nguyen had to evacuate after the Vietnam war, making the United Sates his new home.
Nine years ago, Ap Nguyen suffered a stroke that left half of his body paralyzed. The family decided full time care at Apollo Health and Rehabilitation Center was the best option.
“He liked to have family around him," Sonny Nguyen said, about visiting his dad at the facility. "And that’s why it was very important for us to be there for him."
And now, it's why the younger Nguyen said his heartbreak is mixed with feelings of guilt.
“We couldn’t see him,” Nguyen said. “We couldn’t visit him at the facility and just to think that he died alone, without family around was really tough for all of us.”
According to reports from the District 6 Medical Examiner’s office, a total of four of the facility’s residents have now died from COVID-19.
Sonny Nguyen said staff at the facility told the family the outbreak started when a nurse tested positive, prompting the facility to test everyone. Nguyen said he was told his father was initially just one of two residents with positive results. But now, a week and a half later, a spokesperson confirms 41 residents and 12 staff members have tested positive in the facility wide outbreak.
“In an abundance of caution, 15 residents exhibiting symptoms were transferred to a higher level of care and those positive residents that remain at the facility have been isolated. Positive results for the remaining residents does not necessarily mean that they are experiencing symptoms,” said Karen Marotta, with Greystone Healthcare Management, the company that operates the nursing home.
Marotta said staff members who tested positive for the virus are isolating off site.
"We take the trust of those we serve very seriously and remain committed to protecting the health and well-being of our residents as we work through this developing situation. Everything we do is centered on improving our residents’ quality of life and providing comfort to the family members who cannot be with them during this time," said Marotta.