SEMINOLE, Fla. - 73-days and counting; that’s how long people living at eldercare centers across the state have been isolated from visitors.
As the sunshine state continues to open back up, families want answers about when they finally see their loved ones.
“It’s basically like they‘re in jail, you know, they have to sit in their rooms every day, all day and can’t go anywhere, and it’s depressing to them, I listened to her cry on the phone so many times,” said Tina Sosa.
Sosa says her close friend and roommate, Alinda “Lynn” Suggs, has not been getting better since arriving at a Pinellas County facility for rehab in March.
Lynn was only supposed to be there for a short stay to work on walking and speaking after having a stroke, but days after the 51-year-old checked-in, visitors and group activities started being banned.
“They can’t have anybody going to their physical therapy gym, they can’t have patients anywhere except for in their rooms,” Sosa said. “So the patients are losing that quality of care that they would normally get.”
For Lynn and thousands of other patients and seniors, there are numerous repercussions. They’ve essentially been sequestered for more than 10 weeks.
“Having the isolation does come at a psychological and social cost,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
Earlier this month, DeSantis said he wants to re-open long-term care facilities to visitors but has offered no plan or timeline for how that could happen.
“I just want to be able to know that we have procedures in place that if someone goes to visit their mother, that two weeks later we are not going to have 50 infections roil a nursing home or a long term care facility,” DeSantis said.
A frustrating reality for families and loved ones forced to visit through windows and catch-up over the phone.
Tina sent an email to DeSantis this weekend hoping to show him the negative impact the executive order is having and plead for a solution.
“You have no answers right now, all you have is we’re working on it,” she said.
DeSantis’s moratorium on visitation did not prevent COVID-19 from infecting residents at long-term care facilities. As of May 26, 48% of the virus deaths in the state are connected to eldercare centers.