State limitations on long-term care facility visits lifted Monday

Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 9:34 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - As vaccination numbers go up and COVID-19 numbers go down, long-term care facilities reopened to visitors effective Monday.

“It’s stressful not knowing, not being able to drop in and see him on your own schedule,” Patrick Boykin said.

For Boykin, he’s referring to his dad living in the Clifford Chester Sims State Veterans Nursing Home in Panama City. Charles Boykin suffers from dementia.

“Visiting with masks, being recognizable to him has been a bit of a challenge,” said Boykin.

Challenges Boykin said is a small price to pay if it means his dad is safe and happy.

Chester Sims social worker Brian Sawyer said reduced or no visitation has had an adverse effect on residents.

“It has definitely affected their mental and cognitive ability too,” said Sawyer.

Boykin believes not allowing his dad to see family has possibly accelerated his dementia.

“So when you do have a family member that can come in and they can recognize their faces, it just makes the difference,” said Sawyer.

Chester Sims Communications Director Steve Murray said visitations were allowed again in September, after Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order. And even though visitation is allowed, it still comes with some restrictions. All visitors still have to wear masks and follow other restrictions posted on each care facility’s doors.

With visitors now allowed at other long-term care facilities, Boykin said he hopes it will put residents, like his father, in a better state of mind.

“And really help them with their own mental health, there own physical well-being. Being able to interact with their family members,” said Boykin.

We reached out to other facilities like Pruitt Health nursing home, Mathison Retirement Community, and Charter Senior Living of Panama City Beach for comment on their visitation reopenings, but did not hear back.

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