DeSantis searches for path forward to ‘reopen’ nursing homes, long-term care facilities

With COVID-19 cases and deaths increasing in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, Governor Ron DeSantis spoke with health care officials about the issue Wednesday.

DeSantis wants to figure out a way to allow visitors into facilities where most residents haven’t seen family members for two months.

Tim Ficker is the executive director of Cypress Cove in Fort Myers.

He says in the past six weeks, they have facilitated individual family FaceTime visitations for over 700 residents.

The same is true at every nursing home and long term care facility in the state.

The governor ordered them to close their doors to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Florida Healthcare association executive director Emmit Reed says,

Normally our care centers would be filled with visitors, family members, volunteers, and big celebrations, but that’s just impossible right now.”

And advocates argue the move has saved lives.

But Ficker said the shut down didn’t come without pain, “the number one killer of old people is isolation.”

Now, DeSantis is looking into reopening long-term care facilities to bring families back together.

“Human beings are not meant to be separated, particularly family members,” DeSantis said. “And especially with some of our residents, as they get older, these are important moments. And we want to get them back together and we’ll work hard to do that very soon.”

So a task force was created to study the best way to safely open up.

Reed said, “Our recommendations are going to be based on strong screening procedures, testing, proper infection controls and PPE, designated areas with appropriate social distancing.”

Ficker said his residents are taking a wait-and-see approach, “I’ve been hearing from the people who mostly were really frustrated and angry and they couldn’t see loved ones and so forth. Now that there’s talk of reopening, I’m hearing more and more from the people that are like – please don’t rush into it.”

At this point, the governor says there’s no timetable as to when long-term care facilities will be able to reopen to visitors.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
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