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Visitation to resume in Florida nursing homes, facilities now making preparations

Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 17:26:55-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Families will soon get the green light to visit loved ones in long-term care facilities after Governor DeSantis gave the go-ahead yesterday.

RECOMMENDED: Visitations at Florida long-term care facilities to resume but with limitations: Gov. DeSantis

It’s been nearly six months since long-term care facilities were forced to close due to the pandemic.

“I was losing faith that this would ever happen,” said Ellyne Myers, whose husband lives in a long-term care facility.

Families are finally feeling like seeing their loved ones inside nursing homes is within reach.

“I think in the world of government this has gone very quickly, but to all of us, when we’re counting the days,” said Mary Daniel, the founder of the ‘Caregivers for Compromise - because isolation kills too!’ Facebook groups, as well as a member of the Florida Task Force on the Safe and Limited Re-opening of Long-Term Care Facilities.

Governor DeSantis signed the executive order Tuesday, letting long-term care facilities know they can now allow visitors.

“We will do whatever it takes to keep ourselves safe and COVID free, if that’s what it takes to go in,” said Myers.

The executive order approved many of the recommendations set by the task force. People over 18 years of age are now allowed, under the governor’s order, to visit long-term care facilities under three different designations:

Essential Caregiver:

  • Provides essential needs like bathing, dressing, feeding, and emotional support
  • Each resident living in a long-term care facility is allowed to have two ‘essential caregivers’
  • Must be designated as an ‘essential caregiver’ in the care plan of the person living in a long term care facility
  • Visits available by appointment only
  • Can visit regardless of whether the facility has COVID-19 cases
  • Must wear PPE

Compassionate Caregiver:

  • Allowed access to help residents through situations like the death of a loved one or an injury
  • Must wear PPE

General Visitation:

  • Each resident living in a long-term care facility is allowed up to 5 general visits per week
  • Visits available by appointment only
  • Dependent on whether the facility has had a COVID-19 case within the previous 14 days
  • Must wear PPE and social distance from everyone, including their loved one

“For the essential caregivers, so for the people that are most important, they will be able to hug and touch,” said Daniel.

For some facilities, plans are in place and they’re ready to go, but for others, it could be just a bit longer.

“I know saying ‘be patient’ is such a hard thing to say when you’ve been waiting 6 months and you feel like every day counts, every hour counts, every minute counts, so I think that’s sort of a hard thing to say to families that are desperate to see their loved ones, but I would say, helping those facilities, offering to schedule, offering to go perhaps volunteer is something I would consider,” said Michelle Branham, Vice President of Public Police for the Florida Alzheimer's Association.

Following the governor’s order is not a requirement, but it is strongly encouraged by the task force.

If after a little while your loved one's facility is not allowing visitors, you can file a complaint with the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. You can find that information by clicking here.