Death of Seminole Pavilion nurse brings Freedom Square death toll to 17

Nurse Marjorie Blackman died Wednesday after contracting COVID-19

April 13 was the day employees at Seminole's Freedom Square learned a resident at their facility had COVID-19. They quickly learned it wasn't just one -- and staff were showing symptoms, too, they told FOX 13's Jennifer Holton.

Nurse Marjorie Blackman had apparently been showing symptoms for days. Her daughter Tamara says she was hospitalized April 14.

“Her first symptom was a light cough, but then it got worse... She wasn’t getting enough air to her lungs,” Tamara recalled. “Her blood pressure dropped, it was attacking all of the organs... From then on, it was just pretty much downhill.”

By April 17, the 67-year-old was put on a ventilator, the same day Seminole Pavilion transferred its remaining patients to hospitals.

Marjorie quickly developed pneumonia in both of her lungs. Her family, desperate to save their mother, tried to find plasma from local blood banks.

“I reached out to OneBlood, I reached out to her job to see if anyone could help,” Tamara said.

She eventually was able to find plasma, but the virus was too advanced.

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“The plasma didn’t do anything,” she said.

Marjorie died Wednesday night.

Tamara says, when the pandemic erupted, her mother wore a protective mask at work and ensured her family she was safe.

“She thought because they hadn’t said there weren't any cases at all, she thought that her facility was OK for now,” Tamara said.

Her daughter says she moved around a lot between the buildings on Freedom Square’s campus and would typically see 10-20 patients per day.

MORE: Family did not know nursing home was overrun with COVID-19 cases until it was too late

The Spring Hill resident went back to school to become a nurse in her fifties and spent the last 15 years working at Freedom Square – a daily commute that took an hour and a half each way. It was a sacrifice her daughter says she was more than willing to make.

“She loved all of her patients; she would come home and speak about them all of the time,” she said. Their families loved her. She was a great nurse.”

Meanwhile, the National Guard came in last week to test everyone, campus-wide. According to the District Six Medical Examiner's Office, 16 residents of Freedom Square facilities have died of COVID-19. Marjorie makes 17.

Tamara says she hopes her mother’s death serves as a warning for others.

“It’s time to take care of the doctors and nurses that are on the front. I hope this is an eye-opener for other families, for other medical professions,” Tamara said.

FOX 13 reached out to Freedom Square’s executive director for a statement, but at this time, has not heard back.

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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