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Are Florida elderly in more danger than ever in long-term care facilities?

Every state has handled their COVID-19 responses differently. States have shown a variety of responses that range from complete lockdowns for months to seemingly complete indifference, and everything in between. Florida has been decidedly on the laxer side in terms of COVID safety response.

Although many people applaud Governor DeSantis’s emphasis on individual liberty and maintaining the market’s viability, there are some significant risks involved with this approach, especially when it comes to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care institutions that have been notoriously negligent in their handling of the pandemic.

Visitation restrictions lifted

In late March of this year, Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) announced the lifting of visitation restrictions on visitations for long-term elder-care facilities. The AHCA points to a marked decrease of COVID cases in elder care facilities to justify the lifting of the restrictions.

The AHCA notice also points to a memorandum from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Center for Clinical Standards and Quality/Survey & Certification Group. This memorandum provides guidance and core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention, including screening protocols, hand sanitation, masking and cleaning, among other guidelines.

Florida’s AHCA points out that, while the general restrictions on nursing home visitation have been lifted, facilities should still be following the DHHS’s guidelines for COVID safety.

What are the problems with the lifting of these restrictions?

Allowing each facility to regulate its own visitation protocols without as much governmental oversight is an acceptable idea when applied to facilities that have been historically proactive and effective in protecting their residents from the dangers of COVID. However, this plan is not so great when it comes to ManorCare Florida, Brookdale and other facilities that have been negligent in their handling of the pandemic.

The truth is that there are numerous facilities throughout Florida that have not been taking care of their residents. These facilities should have some kind of government oversight on how they are protecting their residents with their visitation protocols.

What should you do?

If you are considering which elder-care facility you should contract to take care of a parent, make sure you check the history of these facilities and how they have handled the pandemic. This information will give you some important data in terms of how they care for their residents more generally.

If you have a loved one who has contracted the virus in a nursing home, call an experienced elder law attorney to discuss your options.

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