Families anxious to resume visits with loved ones in long-term care

It’s been nearly five months since Allan van der Hamm has seen his wife Lora.

“It was in March, the last time I saw her,” he said. “When they started the shutdowns.”

His wife has lived at Countryside Rehab and Nursing in Palm Harbor after she suffered a severe stroke. The only way he can speak to her is over the phone.

“I’ve been able to talk to her, not all the time, but she gets frustrated because she has trouble communicating what she says. That becomes very stressful. That’s why I say it’d be easier to be there and you can see her and talk to her.”

That’s what Governor Ron DeSantis is hoping to accomplish soon.

“I think we need to be able to start thinking about visitation again,” DeSantis said.

In a press briefing Tuesday, DeSantis said the isolation is also causing those living in facilities to suffer. His strategy to reopen nursing homes would include rapid tests that could deliver results in just 15 minutes.

“The point of care test I believe they’re going to be the antigen point of care test so it’ll be a 15-minute test,” DeSantis said. “If you test negative then you can go in and see your loved one and obviously you can have PPE requirements and all this other stuff but I really worry about the tool but the isolation is hard on people in long-term care facilities.”

Van der Hamm says, as a diabetic, he falls under the high-risk category to see Lora, but it would mean the world to her to see her children.

“Would it make it easier for her daughters? Yes,” he said. “You’d feel better. Even though you’re confined, you would feel better.”

He believes it would solve the #1 problem he’s faced, since March.

“The biggest problem is the communication because you don’t know what is going on with her, and how she is doing or anything else,” he said.

Just last week, the White House said it would be sending about 15,000 rapid tests to nursing homes, but that’s not even enough for one per nursing home in the country.

There’s also the fact that many nursing homes tell us these types of tests are on backorder.