10 Investigates has uncovered a local drug treatment facility that has seen more than two dozen coronavirus cases.
TAMPA, Florida – Since the coronavirus outbreak began, 10Investigates has been looking for the biggest outbreaks to find out why certain places are so badly affected by the pandemic.
We told you about the 524 nursing homes across the state where a deadly flood of cases has occurred. Now let's take a look at drug abuse treatment facilities – places where people start over.
10Investigates has uncovered a local housing development where more than two dozen positive cases have occurred.
The residents there question the way the facility handles quarantine procedures.
"I'm in quarantine with another person. But I'm still in the same building as everyone else and I still use the same bathrooms," Jason Sink told 10 Investigates Jennifer Titus.
"I tested positive last Wednesday."
Sink is treated at the Comprehensive Coordinating Office for Drug Abuse in Tampa, also known as DACCO. He lives in the men's department, which, according to the DACCO website, has 132 beds and four large dorm areas and follows the guidelines for social distance.
A National Guard strike team visited the facility on April 29, 2020 to test for COVID-19. Since this visit, 25 residents and two employees have tested positive.
The Ministry of Health initially informed 10 Investigates that there was only one resident with COVID-19 in the facility.
After 10Investigates started asking questions to DAACO and government agencies, we received a video from Sink who said it was taken when he and other COVID-19 positive residents of DACCO were taken to a hotel in Hillsborough County brought.
The Ministry of Health confirmed that 11 residents were transferred from DACCO.
"It started with body pain," said George Arroyo 10Investigates.
Arroyo said he had been moved to the COVID Hotel by DACCO and has been there for more than a week. Like many others, his treatment is not judicially ordered. He voluntarily went to DACCO.
"It was for alcoholism," said Arroyo.
He joined the four-month program to get his life in order and had no idea that he would be taken to a place with COVID-19 patients.
"I tested positive for corona virus," said Arroyo.
He said he was shocked to hear that a person who tested positive in the hospital could return to the facility for quarantine.
"This person had to use the same shared bathrooms as the rest of us," said Arroyo.
Sink said he was just as stunned when his probation officer told him to return to DACCO after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Paperwork from Tampa General Hospital shows its positive test results.
"The Ministry of Health ordered me to stay at home in isolation and only see someone on May 11," said Sink.
He claimed that he had received a text message from his probation officer saying that he had to report to DACCO or that the probation officer would file a violation. We reached the probation officer on the number in the text messages and were informed by the officer that she could not comment.
She referred us to the Corrections Department.
"I didn't know whether to stay at home like the DOH order and maybe go to prison or not do what DOH says and come here," said Sink.
10 investigators contacted the Corrections Department about this incident and learned:
“Criminals assigned to DACCO's inpatient rehabilitation facility were instructed to medically isolate or quarantine the facility if they tested positive for COVID-19 or came in close contact with someone with COVID-19 Violating their judicial oversight requirements and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the community. If a perpetrator needs medical care, he receives it. This decision was made in collaboration with DACCO and DOH. "
Prison or Quarantine? Sink said he had no choice but to return.
The department for corrections does not operate DACCO. We asked if they included guidelines for quarantine or facility inspection asking criminals to report them. We will let you know when we get an answer.
The Agency of HealthCare Administration monitors inpatient treatment facilities. 10 Investigates asked if cases were being followed up at these facilities, but we didn't get an answer.
We also asked DAACO for an online interview about his positive cases and their treatment. DAACO declined our request for an interview, but Catherine Munch, director of marketing and development, sent us this statement:
"DACCO Behavioral Health worked with the Department of Health to keep our patients and staff healthy and safe. Last week DOH coordinated testing in our men's dormitory program. The results were received yesterday. DACCO worked with the Department of Health to help them A plan for patients who tested positive for COVID. There are currently no positive cases in our men's dorm program. DACCO continues to work with the Ministry of Health to implement best practices for our patients and staff. "
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