Families finally reunited with seniors

Posted on September 2, 2020 by Romi White

Following roughly six months of quarantine, Randy Bryant was able to visit his parents, Bill & Ginny Bryant, in person. The couple celebrated their 71st anniversary on August 14, and Bill turned 93 on August 23. Randy praised Navarre Gardens’ staff for the care they have provided since the state-mandated restrictions were put into place. However, he said the family looks forward to when they can again take his parents out for rides and interact more normally. Today’s visit was behind a protective plexiglass barrier. Photo courtesy Navarre Gardens

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Tuesday issued an Emergency Order that lifts restrictions for visitation to nursing homes, assisted living facilities (ALFs), adult family-care homes, adult group homes and other long-term care facilities.

“Our residents have been anxiously awaiting this moment,” said Kelly Patton, Administrator/Director of Nursing for Navarre Gardens. “We are very excited to be able to safely reunite them with their families.”

The restrictions had been in place for about six months. Patton said during that time Navarre Gardens residents and staff had been “truly amazing.”

“Their health and welfare will always be our number one priority,” Patton said. “It’s great to see the smiles and hear the excitement in our resident’s voices as they realize they are one more step closer to some normalcy.”

The Emergency Order requires all visitors to wear PPE pursuant to the most recent CDC guidelines, and those not making physical contact still must wear a mask. Per the Emergency Order, to accept general visitors, the facility must meet the following:

  • No new facility-onset of resident COVID-19 cases within 14 days other than in a dedicated wing or unit that accepts COVID-19 cases from the community;
  • If a staff member tests positive for COVID-19, the facility must immediately cease all indoor and outdoor visitation in the event that staff person was in the facility in the 10 days prior to the positive test;
  • Sufficient staff to support management of visitors;
  • Adequate PPE for facility staff;
  • Adequate cleaning and disinfecting supplies; and
  • Adequate capacity at referral hospitals for the facility.

Every facility must continue to prohibit the entry of any individual to the facility except in the following circumstances:

  • Family members, friends and individuals visiting residents in end-of-life situations;
  • Hospice or palliative care workers caring for residents in end-of-life situations;
  • Any individual or providers giving necessary health care to a resident, provided that such individuals or providers comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for PPE, are screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 prior to entry and comply with all infection control requirements of the CDC and the facility;
  • Facility staff and residents;
  • Attorneys of Record for a resident in an Adult Mental Health and Treatment Facility or forensic facility for court related matters if virtual or telephonic means are unavailable;
  • Public Guardians, Professional Guardians and their professional staff as defined in Florida Statue 744;
  • Representatives of the federal or state government seeking entry as part of their official duties;
  • Essential caregivers and compassionate care visitors; and
  • General visitors under specific criteria set forth under the Emergency Order.

The Emergency Order directs all facilities to ensure visitors are not quarantining, positive for COVID-19 or symptomatic. The Emergency Order also requires facilities to screen visitors, establish limits on the number of visitors allowed, schedule visitation ahead of time, clean and disinfect visiting areas between visitors and other protective measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

General visitors will need to be 18 years of age or older, wear a face mask, sign a consent form indicating they understand the facility’s visitation policies, comply with facility-provided COVID-19 testing if offered and maintain social distance of at least six feet with staff and residents.

The order will be implemented in the upcoming days as long-term care facilities begin to put new procedures in place to comply with the Emergency Order.