Despite governor’s orders, some being denied from visiting loved ones in nursing homes

OCOEE, Fla. — Fred Griffin hangs on to memories of his wife because, for the last six months, he’s only been able to see her through a window at Ocoee Health Care Center.

And for her, it’s very confusing after having had several strokes.

“When she sees me, she’s smiling, then she tells me (to come inside),” Griffin said. “I tell her, ‘I can’t come in, I can’t come in.’”

On Sept. 1, Griffin drove straight to Ocoee Health Care Center after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced nursing homes could again allow in-person visitation. But he was turned away by staff.

Ocoee Health Care Center responds to reports of COVID-19 outbreak inside facility, lack of communication with family

“I’ve been calling at least twice a week, trying to find out if everything is OK … . As of today, no, nothing.”

Because the governor talked about working on the plan long before he made it official, we asked the Agency for Health Care Administration if it was appropriate for facilities to still not allow visitors.

The AHCA replied with a statement saying, in part, that “facilities are now required to allow scheduled access for visitors in accordance with Emergency Order 20-009.”

Families demand better communication from Ocoee nursing home dealing with COVID-19 outbreak with protests, letters

On Sept. 2, Ocoee Health Care posted a statement saying they were in the process of putting the policies in place to reopen safely to visitors, based on the state’s guidance, and that they would communicate those procedures soon.

But that was two weeks ago.

Ocoee Health Care Center responds to reports of COVID-19 outbreak inside facility, lack of communication with family

Griffin said he knows exactly the first thing he’s going to do when he gets to see his wife again.

“I’m going to hug her and kiss her, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Ocoee Health Care Center had previously been the center of a COVID-19 outbreak. Read more here.

In a prepared statement, Ocoee Health Care Center said:

“It has been our ongoing objective to mitigate threats of COVID-19 for our residents and staff. With that in mind, we are actively working on the necessary policies and procedures to begin visitation within our facility. The governor’s order mandates that the facility complies with the requirements of the order prior to the start of in-house visitation. These requirements entail strategic planning to ensure the safety of our residents, staff, and potential visitors. Ocoee Health Care will continue to follow the local, state, and federal guidelines regarding visitation, testing procedures, and the care of our residents and staff.”

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Adam Poulisse,

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.