Residents need visits

By: 
Bill Taylor

Residents need visits

 

To the Editor:

After reading the letter to the editor last week by Gerry Clark, I felt like I needed to share my stand on the same issue. Below is a letter I wrote the day after Thanksgiving to Erica Eastlund, regional ombudsman for Manor residents.

Dear Ms. Eastlund:

I am writing because I probably would not make it through a phone call coherently. I am asking for your intervention in whatever capacity you have available to intercede and intervene on my wife’s behalf. My wife, Esther Taylor, is a resident of Weston County Manor here in Newcastle, WY. She is 72 and has early on-set dementia and now needs 24-hour care. She now cannot even walk, eat, or sit down properly without assistance. The hardest decision of my life was to decide we could no longer take care of the wife, mother, and grandmother we all love and place her in the nursing home about 18 months ago. But, we were all able to visit as much as possible and she knew we were close and still loved her. Nothing is more important to Esther than the family she loves dearly, other than her relationship with Jesus. I would go twice a day and visit with her.

Then COVID hit and the Manor closed down “temporarily.” And, immediately Esther began to exhibit separation anxiety. It has now been eight months and 10 days since Esther has been able to touch or be with any family or friends. The first thing she tells me every day I talk to her, and she is coherent, is that she wants to see me; when am I coming? It is heartbreaking for us as she exhibits fear, anxiety, frustration, and anger.

We have shared with the Manor staff multiple times how the separation is killing Esther and we know she would rather spend the next month with us and die of COVID than spend the next year in isolation. But, they are unbending. I understand their liability situation and the desire to protect their population.

But, staff goes in and out every day and they interact with people and environments outside the facility and then make contact with Esther, yet I can’t even enter the building even though I’ve already had COVID and am willing to test and mask.

Then, Monday they called and shared that CMS had come out with new guidelines and we could bring Esther home for the holiday if we signed a form saying we would follow the CMS recommendations “to the best of our ability.” We thought we could make that work and were totally excited about finally being able to have a few hours of interaction with the one we love on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yesterday Manor staff called back and the whole tone of the conversation had changed. After 10 minutes of providing answers to my questions, it was suddenly made clear that Manor management had decided that the CMS guidelines were no longer recommendations and were now requirements. There was no mention of “to the best of our ability,” and I was told that she would be doomed to 14 days of quarantine if we broke any rule. I asked if that meant that as soon as I helped her in the house I had broken the rules and she would be quarantined and was told, “Yes.”

So, as soon as staff brought her to the door and I guided her to the car and got in with her I would be observed breaking the rules and she would be destined for quarantine! But, the staff member could hold her arm! This is totally unreasonable and it was cruel to get our hopes up and then dash them. Manor management would rather let her rot in isolation than show some courage and let family go through the same precautions as staff and minister to her.

I could go on about how much this situation angers and depresses me, but I am sure you are aware of that already. Suffice it to say I am fed up with the hard-nosed attitude of management to protect themselves while my wife deteriorates, now has the cognitive ability of a 1- or 1-year-old, and have been told by staff who are working closely with her how she and all the other residents are wasting away with this treatment and isolation.

Consequently, I ask you to do whatever you can to secure visitation for our loved ones. I would wager that just about every resident there would prefer more and closer visitation than more safety.

 

— Respectfully, Bill Taylor

 

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