Florida nursing home hosts ‘remote kisses’ for Mother’s Day

By Alberto Domingo Carreiro.

Miami, May 9 (efe-epa).- Magnolia, Cira, Toshi and Isabel were some of the 315 residents of The Palace Renaissance & Royale nursing home in Kendall, Florida, who due to the coronavirus epidemic, saw their relatives for the first time in almost two months Saturday, although they did so from a distance.

More than 100 family vehicles paraded through the residence’s parking lot, while residents wearing face masks waved in tears.

The reunion, which obeyed social distancing measures set by authorities of keeping at least 1.8 meters apart, was organized for Mother’s Day, which is celebrated Sunday.

“It has been more than a month and a half, and this is the longest time that I haven’t seen her. It is a great sadness because you want to be there, hug her and share with her,” said Bárbara Gutiérrez, who with her daughter was able visit her mother Magnolia.

Gutiérrez said the situation “is very sad,” but that at the same time she “feels happy,” since there are people who have relatives in other countries and cannot see them at all.

“At least here I see her – a little bit away, but I see her. I know that she is taken care of and that she is fine,” the daughter said.

Magnolia wanted to get up from the chair to kiss them, but the staff at the center stopped her.

The 13 members of the Ferrer family greeted grandmother Olbia from their van. Tearfully, they sent kisses from afar as they shouted that they missed her and that soon they could “hug again.”

The 10-year United States Census estimates that 20.5 percent of Florida’s population is 65 years or older, making the state the third oldest region of the entire country after Puerto Rico and Maine, with 20.7 percent and 20.6 percent, respectively.

Nursing homes are one of the most vulnerable for outbreaks in the face of the epidemic, and on Saturday Florida recorded 40,001 confirmed cases and 1,715 deaths.

According to the latest figures from the state’s Department of Health, there have been a total of 652 deaths of the elderly in this type of center, which represents 38 percent of all deaths.

Fortunately, The Palace Renaissance & Royale, south of Miami, has not reported any cases of coronavirus.

According to Ricardo Martínez, executive director, “all the security measures are being taken,” including prohibiting the access of family members.

“It is very hard, but at the same time we have had contact with families through different platforms and social networks such as WhatsApp, FaceTime or Facebook,” said Martínez.

The caravan of cars lasted for almost two hours, parading several times in front of the residents, who joyfully displayed signs with their names so the families could find them.

Band music was also played at the party, while jugglers and stilt walkers strolled along the line of cars to cheer both parties on.

It is unknown when these families will be able to hug each other again, although they all dream of the arrival of that day and do not lose hope that it will be in the near future.

“I think we all have hope, although this is a very hard thing that we are going through. In a few months I will be able to be with her,” predicted Gutiérrez, Magnolia’s daughter.

Carlos Giménez, the mayor of Miami-Dade county – which has 35 percent of Florida’s COVID-19 cases and that together with Broward county, is still waiting for Phase One of the reopening – has requested all the nursing homes in the county to present detailed COVID-19 status reports.

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