HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami) – A tearful Cutler Bay woman said she is overwhelmed with emotion as she looks forward to seeing her 94-year-old mother at her nursing home for the first time in more than five months as the statewide ban on visitors has been lifted.
Gov. Ron DeSantis himself was emotional on Tuesday when he announced the ban, saying, “They would just like to be able to say goodbye on hug somebody.”
That ban had been enacted in March because of a spike in coronavirus cases statewide.
On Wednesday, Dahlia Canes told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “She’s my mom. You know she is everything with me. She took care of me so now I took care of them.”
Her mother, Carmen, lives at the Homestead Manor Assisted Living Facility, which will be allowed to reopen with restrictions.
“Out of necessity, I had to put her in a home and it’s tough because I can’t care for her the way I would take care of her, the way daughters are supposed to care for the elderly,” she said.
“You have been aching to take care of her and touch her?” asked D’Oench.
“It is not a duty,” said Canes. “It is a responsibility.”
She said she has thought about that ever since she and her sister and mother and father came to the United States from Cuba in 1959.
“We are very Latin oriented,” she said. “I might have been raised here since 1959 but still I will take care of my elderly no matter what. She is my mother. She is 94. How much time does she have? You wonder how long you will be able to hold her again. You know I was at Homestead Manor that day in March where they said we could no longer visit and said there would be a ban on visitors.”
Among restrictions, facilities cannot reopen to visitors until they have had two weeks in a row with no new coronavirus cases among workers and residents. Children are not allowed. Adult residents can visit two at a time while wearing protective gear and they must pass a virus screening.
Authorities said more than half of the nursing homes in Florida have not had an onset of new cases since the middle of August.
But the workers union said the virus is still spreading.
Union leader Denise Allegretti said, “I honestly don’t understand how they feel they can reopen nursing homes when 80% of the nursing homes are still turning up positive COVID patients and staff.”
Canes though believes Homestead Manor has gone out of the way to be a safe place to visit and she has taken special steps herself.
“I have taken every precaution on the planet to protect not only myself but all the other elderly people as well,” said Canes. “But if the protocols are in place and it is ok safety wise to see my mom you had better believe I will go see her.”
Since March, she has only been able to see her mother through FaceTime.
“FaceTime maybe twice a week out of the kindness of the nursing home staff and they have been incredible,” she said. “I want to see her and I am excited to see her. But I have mixed feelings because I also don’t want my mom infected and dying alone with this virus. I would rather not see her if there are problems because safety comes first.”
According to the most recent report from the state as of August 30th statewide, 3,503 nursing home residents tested positive for the coronavirus. That was 2.5% of all residents. A total of 3,800 staff workers tested positive and that is less than 2% of the total.
Canes said she had tested negative for the coronavirus and she plans to see her mother as soon as she gets the green light from Homestead Manor.
She also showed CBS4 the two bottles of champagne she planned to bring to the home to celebrate the first visit with her mother.
“It is going to be joyous,” she said. “She loves to drinks champagne. And guess who is going to bring the champagne? I am.”