Families Urging State to Re-Open Visitation in Nursing Homes

Nursing Home Visitation

SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Florida is now implementing even stricter guidelines to make sure that the vulnerable population stays safe - that includes continuing a visitation ban. Meanwhile, the Florida AARP is pushing for the state to loosen those restrictions saying that the impact of isolation is taking a huge toll on seniors and their loved ones.

It's been four months since families have been kept from seeing or hugging their loved ones inside nursing facilities, and with no end to this pandemic in sight, many are begging for restrictions to change.

“It’s been very difficult. The facility she’s in does a wonderful job of taking care of their residents. Each day, when their workers come in, they bring a change of clothes, they mask, they gown and go in to do their jobs. Then they change their clothes and they leave. I don’t understand why that can’t be done for family members. I don’t understand why there can’t be rooms that are easy to sanitize, spray down and clean,” expressed Carla Peterson.

Carla and Sharon Peterson have been together for 31 years, and this is the longest time they’ve ever been apart.

“I always made sure she would get up and walk and do all of the things that she needed to, but now I can’t do that because I can’t be in the facility. I can’t be with her,” Peterson explained.

She says she knows this ban was put in place to protect these elderly patients from getting infected with COVID-19, but Peterson says it’s especially hard right now because with this lockdown, not only is her wife’s health declining, but so is her mental state.

“All she does now is turn on the TV and she sleeps. There’s no incentive for her. There’s no encouragement for her. She needs that help from others. It’s very frustrating to see and watch that,” said Peterson.

She can only visit her wife through the window. Not even technology, like Facetime, has been able to help them feel connected.

“I’ve done that a few times, but they have one iPad for 120 residents,” continued Peterson.

Family members say Florida must find a safe way to allow in-person visits. Especially since more than 15 other states have already done this.

“I would bring a change of clothes. I would gown. I would mask. I would glove. Whatever they would ask, I would do,” pleaded Peterson.

Although The Florida AARP is requesting strict protocol to allow visitors, the federal government says states should not allow visitors at these facilities until there are no new cases for at least 28 days.

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