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Daughter speaks out after losing stepmother to coronavirus at Bradenton nursing home

She says lack of testing is to blame.

BRADENTON, Fla. — More than 700 people at long-term care facilities have died in the state of Florida; 203 of them this past week alone.

LeAnn Foster says her stepmother is now part of that statistic. She thinks her stepmother and others could have survived the pandemic if things inside those nursing homes were done differently.

“She became ill then was in the nursing home for rehab,” Foster said, saying her stepmother was only supposed to be in the facility temporarily.

Foster's stepmother, Betty Foster, went to Manatee Springs Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in January, separated from her husband of 40 years.

“She went in, in January and my father... we found an assisted living facility in Bradenton, he moved into that assisted living facility and the plan was when we got everything in place for her to be with him in that apartment," Foster said.

That never happened. Betty died last Wednesday after testing positive for COVID-19.

“Then Wednesday morning I got the call she was gone; she was dead,” Foster said through tears.

Betty’s family says that should have never happened.

“She was doing well. We were just waiting for the paperwork to be taken care of. She had gotten to a physical state which would be appropriate for assisted living. They would have been fine together,” Foster said.

But, the nursing homes went on lockdown and two weeks ago, Betty started feeling sick. The nursing home said she had pneumonia.

“I got a call from dad saying she was being transferred to another room,” Foster said.

Foster said she called the facility demanding her stepmother be tested for coronavirus after hearing there were already positive cases.

“I saw it on the local news. They (the facilities) are having a hard time getting equipment to test,” Foster said.

She called the Agency for Health Care Administration to complain. The next day, Foster said the state had every resident and staff member tested at the facility.

Those results wouldn’t come back for a week. Betty was already in the hospital when she got her positive test results. And, the next day, Betty passed away.

“Now I have a father who waited all this time for his wife to come back to him and he didn’t see her in over 6 weeks, and he got to see her yesterday in the funeral home,” Foster said.

Sixty-nine people have tested positive at the Manatee Springs facility and five residents have died.

RELATED: Deaths continue to climb at a Seminole long-term care facility

RELATED: Florida Health: Pinellas nursing home now has more COVID-19 deaths than any other long-term care facility in the state

Foster said the director of nursing told her they couldn't get tests at Manatee Springs. Access to those tests has been touted by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said the National Guard has been sent out to long-term care facilities. 

And, just last week, he announced a first of its kind, mobile lab deploying to long-term care facilities.

10investigates has asked repeatedly for a list of facilities getting this assistance. So far, we haven’t gotten that information.

“I’m afraid my father’s not going to make it because he lived for my step-mother. All he waited for was for her to come back,” Foster said.

The Florida Department of Health said Manatee Springs is one of four facilities in Manatee County the National Guard has been deployed to. Bradenton Health Care, Casa Mora and Brookdale Gardens were also assisted by the National Guard.

The Agency for Healthcare Administration is now requiring facilities to allow the Department of Health to test staff members for COVID-19.

10Investigates has spoken to several facilities over the past several weeks who tell us they have been waiting on help from the state, but have yet to get it.

RELATED: Florida top health agency issues emergency rules for nursing homes

RELATED: COVID-19 cases continue to rise at long-term care facilities

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