Florida has just passed a dismal number. 50,000 people have died from the coronavirus, according to the Florida Department of Health. This shows that the pandemic is still spreading in South Florida and may impact the most vulnerable among us.
This puts the children and residents of Broward Children’s Center in a difficult situation. The association has a pediatric retirement home with 36 beds and a group home for 25 young adults who are medically fragile or immunocompromised.
Carolina Rondon just finished high school without a stage or a crowd. She was isolated with her parents via Zoom. She is a resident of the center and suffers from muscular dystrophy, a genetic condition that weakens muscles as they age. She uses a wheelchair and a ventilator.
” I like to learn. I love doing productive and useful things and making an impact on others, ”said Rondon.
She hopes to attend Broward College for teaching or social work once the pandemic is over. But currently there are too many viruses in the community to go to campus.
“It will only slow things down for me and I basically want to make the most of life,” Rondon said.
Many of his fellow citizens are medically fragile children who cannot be vaccinated.
“With the new variant and things, the COVID rate still being present. It is a danger to my health and to my fellow citizens who live here. So if I go out, I don’t want to bring anything back, ”Rondon said.
Before the pandemic, children took group trips there about four times a month: to the beach, to the mall, to eat out and to the movies. It doesn’t happen anymore. It’s too dangerous.
Rondon can leave when she needs to see her doctor, but many children at the center have not left the property since the pandemic began a year and a half ago.
“Imagine if you had a child who had these kinds of issues and you couldn’t hold him, kiss him, hug him,” said Marjorie Evans, CEO of Broward Children’s Center.
Evans told NBC 6 that the costs of supplies and personnel have increased by 40%. New federal regulations will begin soon, which will require staff to get vaccinated or test twice a week, procedures they already have in place.
They also need teaching aids, certified nursing assistants and nurses.
“The management is now in the field and is doing direct service now. We have very few people who are able to stay in a leadership position and not perform direct care because of the shortage, ”said Evans.
Its main concerns are the nearby hospitals. When its residents have to go to the hospital, they need specialized care. COVID patients take up much of that space in intensive care.
According to a September report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association, Florida stopped reporting child hospitalizations in June, but has the second highest number of child coronavirus cases in the country, after California.
Evans doesn’t understand why more people aren’t wearing masks in public to protect the most vulnerable.
“When you get vaccinated or wear a mask, you are protecting others. And that’s where individual responsibility comes in. You have a responsibility to protect others, ”Evans said.
The community spread of the virus also addresses future goals for young adults like Carolina.
“I keep going and stay positive,” she said, “It’s a small thing to ask for our safety, or their safety, everyone’s safety. Just wear a mask. “