BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — It is a move that has been long-awaited by families across the state. The governor is lifting restrictions at nursing homes and long-term care facilities to allow families to reunite with their loved ones.
The past six months have been a nightmare for Beatrice Cohen. Her daily routine of visiting her husband ended abruptly due to the pandemic.
"I can't imagine what Marvin was thinking, 'Where is she? What happened to her?' He can't verbalize, so not only was he suffering, but I was suffering," Cohen said.
Marvin is a patient at Heartland Health Care Center in Boynton Beach. He was diagnosed with hydrocephalus, which doctors say causes dementia.
Beatrice said the restrictions put in place to protect him created an experience that destroyed her.
"Through a glass window, I could not hear what he was saying. He could not hear what I was saying. He just was staring at me. I had no idea what he was thinking, and it just broke my heart," Cohen said.
In June, the two reached a milestone, alone, 59 years of marriage. But she worried that the celebration this time around could ultimately be the last.
Now, after going months without visiting, there is hope. This week Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order to reopen nursing homes partially. However, there are several strict safety measures in place.
Visitors will be screened. There can be no more than two visitors at any time and no more than five people a day.
Minors aren't allowed, and facilities can only have visitors if they have gone 14 days without any cases.
It's a move Cohen said was long overdue.
"I think it's about time that he took care of us caregivers and took us into consideration. And let us return to our loved ones because isolation kills. It's a known fact that the caregivers are under so much stress that they die first," Cohen said.
Cohen said she plans to visit her husband as soon as possible and bring him his favorite food, chocolate donuts and ice cream.
It's important to note that even though the governor is lifting restrictions on visitations, not all nursing homes are ready to allow visitors.
WPTV reached out to a few local facilities and they advised that it will take time to implement the governor's new policies.