WINTER GARDEN, Fla. - Coronavirus is taking a toll on the families of senior citizens in nursing homes, without even testing positive for the deadly disease.
A World War II veteran was its latest victim of circumstance.
When the family of Roger Swanson, 94, checked him into a nursing home, they never thought it would be the last time they’d see him alive.
His daughter, Nancy, says, "The first day of the lockdown, we would do video chats and he looked pretty good."
Nursing homes around the state were ordered by the governor to lockdown because of COVID-19 -- a measure meant to protect the elderly from the deadly virus.
Nancy says she talked to her dad the day before he died through video.
"My dad said, 'I love you guys so much. I love you guys so much. I wish I could get out.' And we said, 'Dad, you can’t come out and we can’t come in because of the COVID.'"
The next day Nancy says she received a call that her father died.
That’s when she was finally able to see him.
"It was the most excruciating, painful thing I’ve seen in my life. To see my dad laying there and nobody was with him. Nobody was with him. So, I just sat there and held his hand even though he was gone."
Nancy says Roger was a WWII veteran and a captain in the Air Force.
Later on in life, he became the editor of a newspaper in Kansas City and a TV anchor in Orlando.
"The world lost a hero and the saddest thing is he had to die alone without a family member there, and I know it’s happening to hundreds of thousands of people, COVID or non-COVID, and it should not happen."
While Roger didn’t die of COVID-19, Nancy believes it added to the tragic situation.
"Something has to be done," she said. "They have to stop the lockdown because these people need their families."
We asked the administrator of the nursing home if she wanted to talk, but she had no comment.
On the company’s voicemail, it states that family is allowed in for end-of-life issues.
However, in this case, it’s not known if the company knew it was an end-of-life issue, and on the governor’s order, it states friends and family are allowed in for end-of-life issues. But for Nancy, it was too late.
"He was an amazing man and it’s a great loss. He didn’t have to go that way," she said.
If a family member has concerns about a facility being out of compliance with this order, especially in regard to an end-of-life situation, they should contact the Agency's Complaint Administration Unit as soon as possible at 1-888-419-3456 or online: Licensed Health Care Facility Complaint Form.