Local senior communities on high alert to keep residents safe from coronavirus


PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Following an executive order by Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, nursing homes and senior living communities across the state are limiting visitation in order to keep residents safe inside.

For a delivery man making rounds across local nursing homes, the job now requires extra screening. 

“Every place I go I’m getting my temperature checked,” said Chad Rosenbaum, who delivers supplies to senior communities often.

Those communities are taking serious precautions, screening every individual who comes in the door, including residents’ family members, health-care workers and facility staff. 

“We’re screening them for temperature, asking them if they’ve travelled outside of the United States,” said Cindy Eachus, an administrator for Mathison Retirement Community in Panama City. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, older adults and the elderly are at a higher risk of getting very sick from the novel coronavirus and nursing homes aren’t taking any chances; some are even limiting unnecessary visits from friends and family.

“We’re encouraging them to use alternate methods of communication with their loved one whether it’s facetime or telephone,” said Eachus.

At Charter Senior Living in Panama City Beach, similar screening processes are taking place for the safety of residents.

“To me it’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Michele Romeo, Regional Health and Wellness Director for the community. “Let’s take the necessary steps to protect everybody that we can.”

Several residents at both Mathison and Charter agree. 

“It’s a danger to everybody,” said Gene Burch, a resident at Charter Senior Living. “If it comes around, I don’t want it.”

These residents said that the screenings and visitation limitations are not only necessary, but they are appreciated. 

“They’re trying to take precautions to catch it immediately so that you don’t have five, six, ten people falling down all at the same time,” said Mellie Pearicio, a resident at Mathison Retirement Community.”

Another resident at Mathison, Billye Carter, said taking the virus seriously is important for everyone, no matter their age. 

“Not only do they need to look out for themselves, they need to think of others,” said Carter. Community managers said they hope it will be less of a concern by this time next month.

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