ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. - An Altamonte Springs nursing home is battling numerous COVID-19 deaths, according to data released by the state.
The son of one nursing home resident who died from the coronavirus says things need to change. It has been an emotional week for Eric Delabarrera after laying his mother, Beatriz, to rest.
"She got diagnosed one Monday, and then that Sunday about a week later, she died. It didn’t take long," he explains.
Yet it seemed like a lifetime from the time she got sick to her death, because Delabarrera says he wasn’t allowed into her nursing home, the Life Care Center of Altamonte Springs. A mandate from Gov. Ron DeSantis bans visitors from entering nursing homes, to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"First three months, they had zero all the way around and then the numbers started ballooning, couldn’t believe it.," Delabarrera says.
The Life Center of Altamonte released a statement saying, in part, that their population is mostly vulnerable seniors with compromised health conditions. They say there have been 118 residents and 41 employees who tested positive. According to the state, 28 people have died there.
'This is the part that I'm really angry about. They're keeping us from bringing the COVID in, but they're not doing anything about bringing their employees with COVID in," Delabarrera says.
The Life Center says they are working closely with health officials to take appropriate steps, adding, "Our sincere condolences go out to the loved ones and friends of those who have died." Read the full release below this article or download it at this link (PDF).
"It angers me that this happened. I know we’re following mandates from the governor, but I think it’s wrong," Delabarrera says.
He believes his mother’s health declined quickly because she had Alzheimer's.
"I saw my mom deteriorate fast when I wasn’t allowed to see her," he explains, saying he misses her dearly, as do her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. "Without her, it's going to be very difficult to live life. Her smile, she was a real funny person. That’s where I get my humor, from my mom."
He is now pleading with the governor to make changes so other families don’t have to deal with the pain and loss he has.
"I’m glad you’re doing this story. I thought I was the only one feeling this way. They’re keeping us from our loved ones. I think it’s totally wrong."
According to the Florida Department of Health, there were 24 COVID deaths at the Coquina Center in Volusia County, 11 in Oakmonte Village of Lake Mary, and 11 in Eastbrooke Gardens, also in Seminole County.
On Friday, the governor will meet with a task force to talk about other options for nursing homes.