Fight for eased visitation rules at nursing homes continues, ‘we keep asking for help, just not getting it’

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GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — Joanne Thomas has a biological father and a step father in Legacy at Maiden Park. She says before the pandemic, she used to visit them every day.

“Over the summer we started with zoom visits, then outdoor visits, then indoor visits and window visits as well in between,” she said.

Thomas says when someone at the home tests positive, in-person visits are restricted for 14 days. That’s exactly what happened on Monday at both of her fathers’ home.

“We were going to start indoor visits again today matter of fact, and we got notification yesterday there was another positive case,” she said.

Thomas says with winter approaching, she is worried her loved ones are spending too much time alone. She says there’s got to be a way to still visit safely.

“They go from silent and reserved, sleeping a lot to angry, lashing out. Eating is difficult, we were always there with my dad at meal time to have meals with him so eating has become an issue. They’re sad,” she said, about her fathers in the assisted living.

Thomas says she has been asking Governor Cuomo and other officials to hear her proposals to find a middle ground. She says she is proposing that there be one “caretaker” from each family that can visit their loved ones in-person, at all times. This, she says, would all be part of a “task-force” where officials and family members can work together. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she says she’s been waiting for officials to actually have the conversation with her.

In addition to that, Thomas says with all the talk about rapid testing in schools lately, why not do the same thing in nursing homes – and test visitors and residents.

“Why haven’t we done that in assisted livings, why, what is the answer. We see them talk about schools, and everything but our seniors and our families. We hear them talk about their concern with social isolation for children, granted that’s a problem, but we don’t talk about what isolation is doing to our seniors,” she said.

In a statement The Legacy at Maiden Care says:

“The health and safety of our residents and associates are our highest priority.  During the pandemic, The Legacy at Maiden Park has coordinated with our National Watermark COVID-19 Task Force, which was created in February to provide clear guidance and steady support through this time.  The Legacy at Maiden Park is following all CDC guidelines, New York State Department of Public Health directives and the protocols of the comprehensive plan developed by the Task Force. These guidelines and protocols include but are not limited to, restricting entrance to essential visitors only, extensive cleaning and disinfection on an ongoing basis, and creating individual programming to support resident well-being while observing safe social distancing measures.

In following local and state guidelines, The Legacy at Maiden Park suspends family visits in the instance of a positive case result for either a resident or an associate. Visits for family and friends are reinstated after the required 14-day suspension.”

News 8 asked he assisted living for a comment on the potential expanded use of rapid testing in visitors and residents to allow for more comfortable visitation, the home did not comment on the matter. News 8 also reached out to the Monroe County Department of Health to ask if rapid testing is something in the foreseeable future for visitors and residents, and is waiting a response.

In 14 days Thomas will be allowed to visit her loved ones in person again but until then, zoom and window visits will have to do. She is also making and accepting holiday cards to send to residents at Legacy at Maiden Park, and other facilities in the area.

“You think about it, nine months, nine months of not being able to hug or be with your loved one, even just take a ride in the car, go through a drive-thru get McDonalds, none of that,” she said.

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