WINDERMERE, Fla. - A Central Florida woman has started a Change.org petition to open nursing homes back up, after a very long COVID-19 lockdown.
"I think, as Americans, we’ve been really patient, but it’s kinda like enough already. We want to see our family members!" said Rachel Scott, who hasn’t seen her husband in three months.
He suffered a stroke and needs care, and now Scott is worried it could end up being six months before she is allowed back inside his facility. So, she started a petition, calling on elected officials to lift the visitation ban that was put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. She said nursing home stays are more like solitary confinement now.
"Locked out, like my rights have been taken away, his rights have been taken away."
Rights of senior citizens like 77-year-old Helen Kivett.
"It has been difficult not seeing my family and interact with them and not having friends pop in," Kivett said.
"If you look at the senior care facilities we’re obviously going to continue restricting that," said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last month, adding that senior citizens are the most vulnerable to the coronavirus and he is just trying to protect them.
Scott said the lockdown is hurting patients, not helping them.
"I do believe they take a chance, every time they let staff in because staff is just like us."
According to the Florida Department of Health in Orange County, two nursing home patients have tested positive for COVID-19, compared to 21 staff members who tested positive.
"It’s just really sad, and I’ve heard stories of people dying alone."
The family of 94-year-old World War II veteran Roger Swanson said he recently died alone despite their attempts to see him beforehand.
"It was the most excruciating, painful thing I’ve seen in my life. To see my dad laying there and nobody was with him," said Nancy Swanson.
Kivett said it has been challenging.
"My big issue is they haven’t given us any idea when this may be lifted, so we’re just sitting and waiting," Kivett added.
Scott hopes to collect 5,000 signatures. Visit Change.org to sign the petition.
The Florida Department of Health has posted a list of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes across the state, which can be viewed here (PDF).