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Some Florida nursing homes barring visitors amid coronavirus emergency declaration

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Posted at 12:02 AM, Mar 11, 2020

Jenna Stokes has a warning for people with family and friends in assisted care facilities; prepare for the worst.

Stokes said she went to visit her sick 88-year-old grandfather William Stokes at a nursing home in the Tampa Bay area when she was given the heartbreaking news.


"When I got to his room, we all found out together the staff and myself that at 5 p.m., we had to leave and not allowed to come back until they decide and let us know," Stokes said. "He's already in a fragile state. He is the sweetest man; he just started crying. He is confused."


Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said the city is doing everything in its power to protect high-risk patients.

"It's imperative we ensure the elderly in our community are safe," Castor said. "We have partnered with code enforcement, the police department, and fire rescue to ensure that we visit all of the assisted living facilities and nursing homes we have within the city of Tampa."

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According to a statement posted on the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration, "Pursuant to Governor Desantis' Executive Order 20-51 and the direction of State Surgeon General Rivkees regarding 2019 Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Agency directs nursing homes and residential healthcare facilities to immediately review facility protocols including visitor screening to ensure precautions are in place to limit introduction of the virus. The CDC has provided guidance to facilities to screen patients and visitors for symptoms of acute respiratory illness (e.g., fever, cough, difficulty breathing) before entering your healthcare facility."

The decision to allow visitors or not is not mandatory and up to each facility to decide how to proceed with patient safety.

"They said no one other than the staff that works there could go back in until they do a sweep of the facility and that all employees working there have to come in and take their temperature," Stokes said. "And, if it's above a hundred, they would be sent home, and until further notice, there would be no more visitors."

Guidelines are constantly changing, Stokes urging people to be ready for the worst.

"Be prepared, because I don't know when I'm going to get to go back, and I wish I could've had his room prepared and more things and to let him know there was a chance he wasn't going to get to see someone he loved every day," Stokes said.

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