State of emergency extends visitor ban at nursing homes

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Cypress Cove retirement community in south Fort Myers. Credit: WINK News.

Families in Florida must wait longer to see their loved ones who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The state’s ban on visitors was extended another two months when Gov. Ron DeSantis extended the state of emergency by 60 days recently.

We spoke to a couple Thursday whose loved one lives in a nursing home in Southwest Florida. They told us they appreciate the state making the move to keep people safe.

But other families are frustrated with the continued visitor ban, and it’s a tough spot to be in for those who run long-term care facilities.

Tucked away off Summerlin Road is Cypress Cove, an independent and assisted-living retirement community in south Fort Myers. People who live there haven’t seen their family members in months. And they’ll have to wait at least 60 more days before that becomes a possibility, again.

“It’s been tough,” said Matthew Lessing, the administrator at Cypress Cove. “From a safety point of view and keeping our residents as healthy as possible, it’s the right thing.”

David and Luann Flammia agree with Lessing. They are happy to see safety precautions remain in place, despite the separation it leaves between them and Luann’s mother, Lenor Hauch. She lives at American House Senior Living community.

“I’m for the extension as hard as it is not seeing her,” Luann said.

“We would rather err on the side of safety,” David said

According to Florida Department of Health, since the first state of emergency went into effect, 2,029 people have died due to COVID-19 in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. And there are Floridians currently petitioning to end the ban extension.

The Flammias did get to see Luann’s mother for the first time in months Monday, but they could not hold each other.

“It was great. Her face lit up, and we were able to put our face on the window together and share I love yous,” Luann said. “And it just made me feel so much better when she saw me, and she immediately got a big smile on her face. That reassured me that she knows I’m still there, and she still loves me.”

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