STUART, Fla. — Senior living facilities need more help protecting their residents from contracting and spreading COVID-19, according to leadership at YourLife Senior Living.
Rick Olson, who is part of the ownership of YourLife Senior Living, is pressing state leaders and AHCA to help supply senior living facilities with COVID-19 tests. He also wants the state to implement mandatory testing policies.
Olson said YourLife has voluntarily implemented mandatory COVID-19 testing at its six statewide locations, including the facilities in Stuart and Palm Beach Gardens.
New residents are not allowed to move in until they have a negative COVID-19 test. As a result, he says none of their residents or workers have contracted the virus.
They have also implemented strict policies, such as limiting visitation and asking residents not to leave the property.
However, there are some unavoidable circumstances when residents do need to leave the property. If someone gets hurt or sick, they may need to go to a hospital. From there, they might also be taken to a skilled nursing home or rehabilitation center.
"That’s where the problem arises," Olson says.
“For us, it started becoming an issue a week, week and a half ago,” Olson said.
He explained that a couple of residents recently had to stay in a rehabilitation facility. Once they recovered, he asked that facility to test the residents for COVID-19 before they were discharged and sent back to YourLife.
"They were not prepared or set up to do the testing. We offered to do the testing ourselves. We were told we weren’t permitted to come into the facility to do the test,” Olson said.
He had to get the state involved to get access inside the facility to conduct his own 5-hour test.
Otherwise, the only other option was to send the residents to a loved one’s home to wait for test results before being allowed back inside YourLife.
Even if only for a few hours, that’s another risk for exposure and a large burden on loved ones, Olson explained.
"To take that person home, you have to have your bed set up. You have to have a dedicated room for that person to sleep…Whatever medical conditions they have, you have to have all the supplies for that person,” Olson said.
That is why Olson is pushing to have the state help supply tests to all facilities that care for seniors and mandatory testing policies.
“They need to be tested at every step to make sure they’re not taking the COVID virus from one facility to the next, and they keep exposing, and exposing, and exposing,” Olson said.