WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Nearly 100 people rallied in Lowville Wednesday in support of loosening state restrictions that prevent them from seeing their loved ones in nursing homes.
“My wife, Judy, is a resident of the nursing home, she’s been here 13 months,” said Bob Meekins, rally organizer.
And like most nursing home residents at Lewis County General Hospital, Judy hasn’t seen her family in half a year.
“The presence of a family member is very important with an Alzheimer’s patient. I do Facetime three days a week. However, it’s been so long that her development with Alzheimer’s is such that she doesn’t really understand,” said Bob.
Loved ones of residents rallied alongside the residential healthcare facility workers, asking the state to loosen visitation restrictions in the area.
At the county facility, there was only about a week where visitation was allowed and it was heavily restricted. Those visitations were cut off when a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 in August.
“I have a mother here. She’s 85 years old now; 84 years we’ve never been apart until now, these past six months,” said
Jeffrey Kogut, rally participant.
Lewis County Health System officials want to allow more visitation too.
CEO Jerry Cayer says he’s not worried about COVID-19 hurting residents.
“But I am worried about loneliness and people do die from loneliness,” he said.
The hospital says it’s confident it could maintain resident safety while allowing for more visits. Officials just need the state Department of Health to back them up.
“In Lewis County, we could make something work here. Our overall regional infection rate is very low and we’ve had a robust screening program for visitors and staff alike. There’s a model I’ve sketched out with the administrator where, with the proper PPE support, every resident could have a visitor every two weeks,” said Kogut.
The question is will the state loosen restrictions? Family members at the rally say it has to happen.
“Our family members need to be with our residents,” said Michael Young, rally participant.