BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – Governor John Bel Edwards moved the state into Phase 3 of reopening on Tuesday, but some restrictions are not changing for nursing homes, and it has some area residents upset.
The announcement of Phase 3 means most non-essential businesses can increase their capacity to 75%, but families are discovering that restrictions on nursing homes will remain in place.
“It’s just something we never, ever thought we would face, and of course, we’re still facing it,” says Lauren Easley. Her 92-year-old mother has been in a nursing home since the start of the pandemic.
She says she could have outdoor visitation with her mother at one time, but when COVID-19 cases began to spike, the nursing home discontinued visitation.
Easley says the restrictions did not prevent her mother from getting COVID-19. The nursing home moved her mom to a COVID ward, where she had two fall incidents within a week and was transferred to a hospital. Visitation in the hospital was also limited to patients in critical condition only, so “she had to suffer through on her own, I couldn’t help or do anything for her,” Easley said.
Easley’s mother survived COVID-19, but many nursing home residents do not share the same story.
Mary Biegler’s mother passed away during visitation restrictions, but not from COVID-19, “she died of loneliness and isolation trying to do too much because everything had been taken from her,” Biegler said.
Biegler’s mother was active in her community before COVID-19, so she became antsy when lockdown happened. She says her mom kept trying to do things that she should not have done without help and kept falling.
Being alone was frustrating for her mother, “she said that she would rather die hugging her grandkids and getting COVID than to die alone in isolation,” Biegler said.
Her mother suffered a fall that led to bleeding in her brain. After a year of separation, Biegler held her mother one last time before she passed.
The experience changed her view on these facilities. She says, “I would never put my loved one in a skilled nursing facility. Not because of the way they’re being treated there, but because of the way our government is treating our senior citizens.”
Biegler says she believes the government should allow seniors the right to visitation, “the loneliness and isolation is real for these people, it is just as much of a killer.”
Although it may be too late for her mother, she hopes that nursing homes will reopen to visitation soon. Biegler says, “I don’t want anyone to have to go through what we did,” adding that “we need to hold in higher esteem, our senior citizens, our elderly who have paved the way for us and have made life good for us here. How quickly we forget what they’ve done for us.”
For more information on phase three guidelines, visit Open Safely.
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