Local lawmaker proposes legislation to make it easier to visit loved ones in nursing homes

Updated: Sep. 23, 2020 at 5:37 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - There’s a call to ease the restrictions on visiting loved ones in nursing homes. It’s lead by state Senator Joe Griffo, who represents parts of the north country.

Dozens of people in the north country have gone to rallies, asking New York state to loosen COVID-19 restrictions at nursing homes. State Senator Joe Griffo agrees.

“We need to revise the visitation rules. We need to allow families to have that ability to interact with their loved ones in these facilities and it has to be done now,” said Griffo (R. - 47th District).

Griffo says lawmakers have heard from dozens of people like Karla Abraham-Conley, who have a parent in a New York nursing home. She says her mother’s health has been deteriorating since the pandemic.

“I’m not allowed to go in, my father is not allowed to go in. My mother will die from isolation and failure to thrive,” she said.

Nursing homes did ease some restrictions last week. If a nursing home worker has COVID-19, visitation will be halted for 14 days, rather than 28.

But residents are limited to two visitors and 10 percent of a facility can have visits per day.

Griffo says he’s proposing legislation that would give essential caregiver status to family members.

“We are hopeful that it will be something that would be considered because it would give extra eyes and ears to the facilities, because family members then can go in and do some of things that staff traditionally would have done, like feeding the individual there, if they need that type of attention,” he said.

Bob Meekins, who organized a rally at Lewis County General Hospital’s nursing home, says he’s glad lawmakers are pushing for the legislation.

“I think it’s an excellent idea. That would certainly benefit both the residents and family members,” he said.

Griffo is also encouraging people who want restrictions loosened to reach out to the governor’s office.

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