Advocate starts petition to lift nursing home visitor ban in Ohio

Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 6:48 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It's been nearly 100 days since families have been able to visit their loved ones in nursing homes, some of the worst places hit by the pandemic.

One advocate has had enough. He’s sending a petition to the governor, asking him to lift the visitor ban.

Steve Piskor said our elderly are dying alone and it's time for them to see their families.

Piskor said his mom Esther was abused in a nursing home in 2011.

“That’s why families need to get into nursing homes, because they really are the only eyes that look for the abuse, that look for something wrong,” he said.

His mom died two years ago and he can only imagine how families are feeling, unable to visit their loved ones because of COVID-19.

Every day away from them counts.

“If it would’ve been now I would’ve been going crazy trying to figure out a way to get in, what to do. Three months would’ve been a lifetime for her,” Piskor said.

On top of that, most nursing homes stopped community dining and group activities, which could lead to loneliness.

“These people are in a room 24 hours a day for the past three months, with that curtain drawn by themselves in that room,” Piskor said.

Piskor runs Elderly Nursing Home Abuse Advocates and he’s trying to help other families.

He started this petition and sent it to the governor.

It has nearly 700 signatures.

Piskor wants to stop the ban on family visitors at nursing homes that's been in effect since March 13.

Gov. Mike DeWine said the ban was temporary, because elderly people have compromised immune systems.

But Piskor worries not having visitors could also have major consequences.

“I was my mother’s only eyes, no one else caught the abuse. My mother would’ve been dead 10 years ago from the abuse,” he said.

He's been pushing a state bill called Esther's Law to allow cameras inside nursing homes.

Until that happens, he says families need to see their loved ones again in person.

“We’re not asking for a lot, we’re asking for a little. They can be limited on time, families don’t care. We’re not going to stay and sit in there all day long,” he said.

The decision to allow visitors at nursing homes would be between the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Aging and the governor.

We checked with ODH and no announcement is planned.

Right now visitors can go to some assisted living facilities, but only outside.

We reached out to the governor's office for a response to the petition and we have not heard back.

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