Reuniting families: Daughter eager to visit elderly mom, concerned about plan to reopen ALFs

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – For her mother’s 96th birthday on Monday, Anita Cort plans to drop off a cake at the front desk and then celebrate with her mom through the window at her long term care facility.

“To have a little visit with them one-on-one, that would mean the world,” Cort said.

Cort has not been able to hug her mother since Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended visitation at nursing homes and long term care facilities in March in order to protect the most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

8 On Your Side was with Cort during one of her many visits at the window before Mother’s Day weekend, when she learned her mom had tested negative for COVID-19.

“The way they’ve got it now is she can’t take her mask off to communicate with me,” Cort explained. “I can’t tell what she’s saying to me so its a one-way conversation that’s made it a lot more difficult.”

Florida Department of Health records show 26 residents from the Bristol at Tampa have died during one of the worst virus outbreaks in Tampa Bay.

Statewide, 3,493 residents and staff at long term care facilities have died, as of the Sunday morning update.

“I’m blessed the way my mother has survived this spell of the pandemic,” Cort said.

Gov. DeSantis announced this past week that he has formed a task force looking at the limited reopening of long term care faculties and ways or family members to safely visit their loved ones.

“The last four and a half months have been difficult for all Floridians, especially our residents in long-term care facilities and their families,” Gov. DeSantis said. “In an effort to protect our most vulnerable, we made the difficult decision in March to prohibit visitation to these facilities. While these measures were necessary, it has taken an emotional toll on our families. I look forward to the ideas that arise from this task force on how we can continue our mission to protect the vulnerable while allowing for the much-needed human connection of spending time with family and friends.” 

Cort still has her concerns, but she also shared with 8 On Your Side her ideas knowing a future visit with her mom won’t be the same as before the pandemic began when she’d sit with her four hours.

“I think they should have some real regulations on that like the number of visits available per person,” Cort said. “I think one person at a time to go in and see them and I think there should be a time limit.”

The governor has not announced a timeframe when long term care facilities might reopen on a limited basis for visitors.

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