On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that some long-term care facilities would be able to reopen to visitors. The Safe and Limited Re-Opening of Long-Term Care Facilities task force informed his decision.
We spoke with Marty Goetz, CEO of River Garden Senior Services in Jacksonville, who notes that “compassionate visitation, which is discussed in the revised emergency rule, was always in the governor’s original emergency order.”
“We have been using it sparingly here at River Garden,” Goetz said.
Goetz said he expects a vaccine against COVID-19 will be the most effective tool in stopping the spread.
“The governor talked about feeling a pit in his stomach last March, as he ordered nursing homes to begin banning visitation. I hope Gov. DeSantis felt that same pit in his stomach when he refused to order mandatory wearing masks in Florida. Because absent a vaccine; masks, social distancing, and hand washing, I mean [they are] the three most effective tools available to us, that has not changed. As far as the governance or revision, I was expecting that he would be including testing, because testing in communities such as mine are the only way you can get ahead of this fire,” Goetz said.
Attorney Steve Watrel, who specializes in issues related to long-term care facilities, also joined us.
Watrel said he believes that visitation can happen safely if facilities, visitors, and caregivers comply with the rules.
“I think the governor here was trying to strike a balance...right now there’s a risk,” said Watrel.