NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — The long-term care lockdown likely saved countless lives at the height of the pandemic. But experts say many residents also suffered unintended side effects from isolation as a result.

Now, a bill filed in the Florida House of Representatives by Rep. Jason Shaof aims to prevent that from ever happening again. FL House Bill 987 would prohibit facilities from banning essential caregivers from visiting.

We checked in with the Reisinger family of New Port Richey, who we’ve been following since the start of the pandemic. Daughters Ricki and Shawna Reisinger said they support the proposed bill, in the hopes other families don’t have to go through the same heartbreak they did. Their mother, Sandra Reisinger, passed away at their home just after Christmas. Before that, she was being cared for at a local nursing home and, during the lockdown, the Reisingers said they went months without seeing their mother and now consider it time with her they will never get back.

“When we were finally able to bring her home, this is where she spent her final days,” Ricki Reisinger said. “Knowing she’s not suffering from the disease anymore gives me peace. But those days that we lost are days we will never get back.”

Ricki and her sister Shawna say legislation ensuring loved ones would always be allowed to visit would be in the best interest of all long-term care residents and are now urging other lawmakers to show their support.

“Think about if this was your family member you weren’t able to see.  No one should ever be forbidden from seeing their parents or another loved one and lose that time,” said Ricki Reisinger. “Because now, it’s unfortunately too late for us and we’ll never get those days back. And we can’t make up for them now.”