Varying visitation rules at long-term care facilities frustrate families

‘It’s hard emotionally’ one woman says of efforts to see her mother

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Not every long-term care facility immediately opened its doors after Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted visitation restrictions in Florida.

Families say that makes it difficult because not everyone is playing by the same rules, despite the governor telling them to open the doors.

RELATED: Florida rescinds nursing home visitation orders

Some of those families told News4Jax they need all the time they can get with their loved ones because moments are precious when their loved ones are slipping away.

Carrie Farmer and her mother have one 15- to 30-minute scheduled visit a week, and during the visit they’re kept apart and dressed in PPE.

“She keeps asking when can she come home for a visit for a few hours,” Farmer said. “It’s frustrating and it’s hard emotionally because some people are able to get in and see their love ones and be there for them fully.”

Terri Alderfer’s mother, like Farmer’s, suffers from dementia and struggles with isolation. Alderfer recently got to pick her up from the facility.

“I got to take her out. She got to walk outside those doors for the first time in 14 months,” Alderfer said. “It’s just been a long time. But it’s better now. And we’re going to be thankful for what we have.”

READ: Governor’s executive order | FAQ on order from AHCA

DeSantis’ administration lifted visitation restrictions late last month, but not all facilities immediately followed the updated guidelines.

One woman told us a facility in Orange Park suspended visits dues to positive COVID cases. Others say they got emails the same week, saying their facility no longer required appointments or time limits for visits.

Every facility is different, and it’s best to contact them directly for their current rules.

The Agency for Health Care Administration said according to the governor’s order, residents can leave without time restrictions, vaccinations are not required for residents or visitors but are encouraged, physical contact is allowed, and there are no restrictions on the number of visits unless the facility says otherwise.

The facilities still follow CDC guidance and loved ones are encouraged to reach out to AHCA with questions.


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