TAMPA, Fla. -- Hillsborough County is tapping an assisted living facility to help stop the spread of coronavirus for some of the area's most vulnerable people.
According to officials, Hillsborough County has entered into an agreement with The Inn at University Village to serve as a transition unit, which sets aside 60 COVID-19 transitional beds for senior care facility residents who were hospitalized with the virus, but who do not require hospitalizations.
Staff there will serve those patients while they await final clearance to return to their previous residence.
"Patients are expected to be moved from hospitals to the facility, where they will temporarily reside in a separate wing specifically designated for COVID-19 patients, beginning this week," a release stated Wednesday.
"The geographic setup of the building itself has two wings that are completely isolated and we can have COVID-19 patients brought in and out of the building without coming into any sort of contact with the common area of the building," said Chief Ray Hansen, Hillsborough County's Deputy Fire Marshal.
The county's Senior Care Facility Rapid Response Task Force, formed last week, is overseeing the initiative. The task force is comprised of members from Hillsborough County, the City of Tampa, the Florida Department of Health-Hillsborough County, the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, and four hospital systems: Tampa General Hospital, BayCare, AdventHealth and HCA Healthcare - West Florida Division.
"If we get in there and we’re able to find an asymptomatic carrier and we can isolate that person and prevent that person from spreading the virus to these people, that’s just helping to save lives and illness," said Chief Hansen.
According to the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, high-risk patients 65 or older account for 20% of the county's confirmed cases.
Two facilities in Plant City and Tampa saw major outbreaks this month, infecting at least 140 people.
As of this week, residents at 30 long-term care facilities in Hillsborough County tested positive for the virus, resulting in 33 deaths.