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Families wait to see their loved ones in long-term care facilities

BELLEAIR, Fla. — Families are still waiting to see their loved ones who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

Ricki Reisinger has not seen her mother since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

Her 72-year-old mother lives at Morton Plant Rehabilitation Center in Belleair.

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“I’m very frustrated, disappointed and anxious,” said Ricki Reisinger.

In September, Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order allowing long-term care facilities to allow visitors, but visitation is still slightly limited.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Visitations at Florida long-term care facilities to resume but with limitations

General visitors may only be allowed into a facility if it has no new COVID-19 infections for the past 14 days.

A spokesperson for Morton Plant Rehabilitation Center sent ABC Action News the following statement:

“We have been in the process the last few days of sharing with our residents and their loved ones that Gov. DeSantis’ order has several criteria about opening facilities to visitation, including that a facility has had no new COVID-19 infections for 14 days. Morton Plant Rehabilitation Center does not currently meet that criteria. However, we are monitoring the situation and as soon as we are able, we will open our facility to visitors as allowed under the governor’s order.”

The governor’s order also allows compassionate caregivers and essential caregivers into facilities to visit.

Essential Caregiver:

  • Provides essential needs like bathing, dressing, feeding and emotional support
  • Each resident living in a long-term care facility is allowed to have two ‘essential caregivers’
  • Must be designated as an ‘essential caregiver’ in the care plan of the person living in a long-term care facility
  • Visits available by appointment only
  • Can visit regardless of whether the facility has COVID-19 cases
  • Must wear PPE

Compassionate Caregiver:

  • Allowed access to help residents through situations like the death of a loved one or an injury
  • Must wear PPE

Reisinger and her sister are trying to get listed as “essential caregivers” on their mother’s care plan.

“We are both actively involved in my mother and her care and making sure that she is taken care of so there’s no reason for us not to qualify as essential caregivers,” said Reisinger.

Kellie Caswell has not seen her mother in more than six months. Her mother lives in a different long-term care facility. She said her mother’s health is declining.

“I don’t know if I’ll see her alive before this all gets resolved and that would be horrible,” said Caswell.

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Caswell asked her friends and family to send her mother letters and cards while she could not visit.

“The FaceTime calls were good, but it’s been really hard not seeing her,” she said.

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She wants to be allowed into the facility to see her mom. She calls every day trying to get answers.

“That’s my mom. She’s the one who made sure I was taken cared of so here I am trying to do my best,” said Caswell.

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