PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFL)A – Don Perri and his two children came up to a window at the Freedom Square nursing home on Thursday to say hello to Don’s wife.
The couple has been married for 59 years and they are from New York. Minutes after they arrived, a staff member told the family they had to leave.
“I’d rather be home. I’m very lonely here, my kids flew down to help me keep it together. I want to go home,” said Don Perri.
John Perri says his mother was brought to the facility three weeks ago to recover after a stroke.
Now there is a new concern as 21 patients and six staff members in another building at the nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19. They have now all been removed to three local hospitals for care along with 38 other patients.
For those with loved ones here at Freedom Square — the situation is heartbreaking as they try to get in touch with loved ones like Michelle Ellis.
“We’ve been calling, every day, over and over and over and can’t get a return call from anybody, Ellis said. “”It’s very emotional because we love him and we need to know that he’s okay. And we need to know that the people who own this or are at the top are paying attention.”
A statement from Freedom Square says the 38 patients do not have symptoms and were removed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to allow staff at the facility to focus on the patients that remain.
Donna Perri says they’ve been getting conflicting information about what’s going on inside.
“We are planning on having her discharged tomorrow. We’re hearing all kinds of stuff about insurance will pay, won’t pay because we’re taking her out. We don’t care. Her safety comes first,” said Donna Perri.
Other residents in buildings near Freedom Square are concerned because they haven’t been notified by management about what’s going on.
“They had an outbreak and they did not reveal it to anybody. So, they are basically doing what China did to us,” said Dennis Kelly.
A number of family members told 8 On Your Side they found out about the situation on the news, Attorney Charles Gallagher says that is unacceptable.
“They’re not there permanently, it’s not a prison, it’s not a jail,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher believes facilities like this one should be transparent.
“No ones asking for names or who’s been diagnosed. We’re talking about mitigating risk and mitigating spread issues. So the rights would definitely be to have residents and patients there to have safety and full disclosure,” Gallagher said.
A statement from Freedom Square says they are working with the Pinellas County Department of Health and following CDC guidelines to keep their patients safe.
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