Tampa Bay area families feel ‘helpless’ trying to transfer loved ones to different nursing homes

Coronavirus

SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) – Tight restrictions have been in place for Florida nursing homes for months following multiple COVID-19 outbreaks at facilities across Tampa Bay. Now, some family members are trying to figure out how to get their loved ones out.

Multiple families have reached out to 8 On Your Side for answers.

A Manatee County woman says she has been trying to get her 95-year-old mother out of her nursing home for months due to a COVID-19 outbreak. She reached out to 8 On Your Side for help.

“The nursing homes that have zero cases have a very strict 48-hour timeline to be tested get the results back in 48 hours and have her transferred. Without a rapid test that is impossible! The only place that can get done is in a hospital, and since she’s not sick, it’s not happening. It’s a very vicious cycle and no one is willing to help us,” the woman wrote.

Other families with loved ones at Tarpon Point Nursing and Rehabilitation Center are also trying to move their loved ones.

The facility in Sarasota County is eighth in the state for COVID-19 deaths. A total of 22 residents have died from the virus, according to state data. 8 On Your Side spoke with at least five different families who say management has not been transparent throughout the coronavirus crisis.

“I have had to call yelling and fighting to try and get somebody to call me back,” said Susan Hubbard.

Hubbard’s 78-year-old mother contracted the virus in April. After six weeks of battling COVID-19, she tested negative last week. Now, Hubbard is trying to figure out how to get her out.

“I just don’t feel like she’s getting the care that she should,” At this point, Hubbard says she feels her mother is trapped. “I feel helpless. She is stuck and I have no idea what to do. I don’t know where to go,” explained Hubbard.

After going through what she describes as an atrocious experience, she wants to make sure to find a place that is transparent, caring , and prepared to handle communicable diseases.

“I kind of have a distrust of the whole industry right now,” admitted Hubbard. “Transparency is critical, but I don’t know how easy it is to find.”

Matthew Solomon is a certified assisted living administrator and the communications and partnership manager at Aviva in Sarasota County. He tells 8 On Your Side despite restrictions due to COVID-19, there are still options and resources out there for families looking to relocate their loved ones.

“No resident should ever feel that they are locked into a place regardless of the situation,” said Solomon.

Solomon explains each facility has a different process on how they are accepting new patients and residents. For assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities, he says it will be a little bit more difficult due to executive orders coming from the state.

“Some facilities have chosen to add on additional quarantine elements to not take patients in who are COVID positive or not take patients in who are from facilities with large COVID outbreaks,” said Solomon.

Solomon says transferring from facility to facility can involve several steps including COVID-19 testing.

“Usually it is 5 to 7 days prior to move in. We are just looking for those results to come in anytime during that time frame and that is just showing us your baseline,” said Solomon. He says some facilities may be able to help assist families with testing if needed.

His best advice to families looking to relocate is to do research and ask a lot of questions.

“Just because a facility has COVID-19 doesn’t make it a bad facility. It doesn’t mean that people aren’t doing their job, but just make sure that they are being honest with you about how their policies work,” said Solomon.

“One phone call may be may be all you need. We are all very connected in this industry. Everyone kind of knows everybody. So, if you reach out to us, we can help you find the right fit even if that is not at our own community,” said Solomon.

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