“Protected them to death”: COVID rules for elderly care are firing | News

“Protected them to death”: COVID rules for elderly care are firing | News

Barbara and Christine Colucci are anxious to take off their masks and kiss their 102-year-old mother in a nursing home in Rochester, NY with dementia. You can also be there.

“I don’t know how long she will live,” said Christine Colucci. “So give her this last chance in the last few months on this planet and try to interact with her.”

Pandemic restrictions are disappearing almost everywhere except within many nursing homes in the United States. Despite the fact that 75% of nursing home residents have been vaccinated and infections and deaths have plummeted, regulations designed to protect the country’s most vulnerable people from COVID-19 are still in force.

Frustration began as families across the country visited their mother and father on Father’s Day weekend. Hugs and kisses are still not recommended or prohibited in some nursing homes. Residents eat relatively isolated, bingo, and make crafts in the distance. Visits are restricted, need to be short, and are completely blocked if someone tests positive for the coronavirus.

Families and supporters have questioned the need for such restrictions at this stage of the relatively low-risk pandemic. They state that this measure is now prolonging the isolation of older people and accelerating their mental and physical decline.

“They protected them to death,” said Dennis Graceley, whose 80-year-old mother, Marian Lauenzan, lives in a nursing home in Topton, Pennsylvania.

Rauenzahn was infected with COVID-19 and lost part of her leg due to gangrene, but Gracely said she struggled most with forced loneliness from a six-day weekly visit to none at all. I did.

Lauenzan’s daughters eventually gained the right to meet her once a week, and the nursing home now states that it plans to relax rules regarding visits to all residents in late June. But as far as Graceley is concerned, that wasn’t enough.

“I believe it advanced her dementia,” Graceley said. “She is very lonely. She wants to be very terrible from there.”

The Pennsylvania Long-Term Care Ombudsman has received hundreds of complaints about visiting rules this year.

Kim Shetler, a data specialist at the Ombudmans office, said the COVID-19 limits for some nursing homes exceed those required by state and federal guidelines.

She said the managers are doing what they think is necessary to keep people safe, but the family is naturally upset.

“We did our best to advocate for people to get those visits,” she said. “It’s their home. They have the right to come and go and should have the visitors they choose.”

A recent study by the advocacy group National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care found that visit time limits ranged from 15 minutes to 2 hours and were commonplace. Some facilities limit visits on weekdays, which can be difficult for people working during the day or are limited to one or two visits per week.

Rauenzahn’s Pennsylvania Nursing Home has limited most residents to a 30-minute visit once every two weeks.

Federal authorities should “regain full access to nursing home residents without delay,” Consumer Voice and several other advocates said in a June 11 letter to the Medicare & Medicaid Service Center. It was. “People continue to suffer from quarantine and decline due to the limited visits permitted by current guidance,” the letter said.

Advocates also have problems with federal guidance on how nursing homes deal with new COVID-19 cases. According to the guidance, most visits should be suspended for at least 14 days. Some families, managers and supporters have complained that the recommendations have led to frequent blockades for one or two cases.

Jason Santiago, Chief Operating Officer of Manners in Seneca Hill, Oswego, NY, said:

He said continued isolation was at great cost.

“We must do something more meaningful to these residents, more meaningful to these families.”

The federal government has recently relaxed restrictions on vaccinated nursing home residents, but New York isn’t doing well. For example, people who eat together in a communal space need to be socially distant. Also, regardless of vaccination status, you should wear a mask and be 6 feet away during activity.

Elizabeth Eingast, vice president of clinical excellence at New Jewish Home, which operates elderly care facilities in and around New York City, said that crafts, bingo, and music (“Much of Nursing Home Life”) It says it will be more difficult. ..

“We prioritized vaccination of nursing home residents. That’s great, but they don’t have the same freedom you and I have now,” said a recently published wine guest. Said. Opinion piece Call for relaxation of restrictions.

Her co-author, Karen Lipson of Leading Age New York, represents a non-profit nursing home, stating that the rules “force a crackdown on this kind of love, which is really very difficult.”

Johns Hopkins public health expert Nancy Kas said the virus infected more than 650,000 caregivers and killed more than 130,000 people nationwide, taking precautions when COVID-19 goes out of control. He said he was obliged to take. University. But she said she was confused by the continued focus on safety at the expense of the quality of life of the inhabitants, given that “we are no longer in that situation.”

In Ohio, Bob Grave was desperate for landscape changes after being trapped in a nursing home in the Cincinnati region for most of last year. However, the administrator did not allow a visit to his son’s home due to concerns about COVID-19 — even if both men were fully vaccinated.

According to his son Mike Grave, the policy has pushed Grave to a “limit.” His 89-year-old father called six, eight, and even ten times a day out of boredom and frustration, constantly talking about escaping.

Mike Grave said he urged the manager of the nursing home to go out, but was only told, “If you take your father out, you have to leave it to everyone else.” According to Grave, managers are worried that residents will bring back COVID-19.

The admin did not return a phone or email message from the Associated Press. The day after the AP asked for comment, the manager called him to the office, offered to allow his father to visit, and said the policy would change for everyone else.

The father and son had a wonderful afternoon in the sun at Grave’s house where he found a deer.

“He said’Hallelujah’. I don’t know how many times,” Grave said. “He said,’I don’t know how you took me out, but I’m very happy to be able to cry.’”

Rubinkam was reported from northeastern Pennsylvania. The Associated Press correspondent Marina Villeneuve in Albany, NY contributed to the story.

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