79ºF

To avoid coronavirus risks, visitation restricted at assisted living facilities

Assisted living facilities urge families to find innovative ways to connect with loved ones

LAKE MARY, Fla. – Several people were turned away from visiting their loved ones at Spring Hills in Lake Mary Thursday because the facility instituted a nonessential visitation policy.

Some people said it’s frustrating not being able to see their loved ones but they understand why these changes are necessary.

Executive Director of Spring Hills Tenise Hagan spoke to News 6 in a FaceTime interview to minimize outside contact since she works with some of the people most vulnerable to COVID-19: the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.

“We want everyone to have a clear mind. Not to be afraid, but also not underestimate, and make sure we’re being proactive and not reactive," Hagan said.

Hagan said a couple families have opted to take their parents out of the facility so they don’t miss upcoming family gatherings. She said those residents will have to stay out for a few weeks, then get screened before returning. She said her staff is prepared.

[MORE COVERAGE: Here’s how the US is handling coronavirus testing | Here’s what it means to self-isolate ]

“We are treating this like we’re preparing for hurricane system. We have extra gowns, gloves, hand sanitizer, soap ... We stocked up on everything," said Hagan.

CERTUS senior living in Orlando also limited visitation and may soon prohibit visitors altogether. They are urging families to find innovative ways to connect with their loves ones.

“Leverage technology. We all have access to smartphones. Record videos and send them to the community, write letters," Joshua Freitas said.

Freitas is the vice president of program development at CERTUS and said all scheduled outings and events outside of the facility have been postponed. He said if you are caring for a loved one at home, there are things you can do to help reduce the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

“Keeping things as clean as possible, minimizing exposure from the outside world, but also not restricting people from living a life or normalcy. Maybe starting spring cleaning soon. One, it keeps the house clean and minimizes risk. Two, it’s giving them a sense of purpose," Freitas said.

Both assisted living facilities are working with local doctors and nurse practitioners to arrange appointments through video chat.

As of Thursday, there were 35 Florida-related coronavirus cases.

Anyone who becomes ill should contact their county health department or health care provider prior to physically going to the doctor.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter or go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.


About the Author: