Ohio families count down the days until they can visit loved ones at nursing homes again

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 8:28 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Latest numbers show 2,101 nursing home patients have died from Covid-19, according to the Ohio Department of Health.

And more than 11,186 nursing home residents and staff have tested positive for the virus since April 15.

The ban on visitations have been tough on families over the last few months.

Families are counting down the next 10 days for when they'll be able to start visiting their loved ones in nursing homes again.

The visits will only be outside and time will be limited.

We spoke with Sally Shires, from Strongsville, who is worried those visits won't be enough.

She and her husband Irwin have been married for nearly 60 years.

Irwin is 85 years old and lives in a Brunswick nursing home.

Shires worries his health is already suffering and could get worse if she can't go in to provide him extra care and companionship.

“He has advanced Parkinson’s disease and he’s getting worse. And it’s been absolute torture not to be able to go and see him,” she said.

Shires has waved at him through the window from time to time since nursing home visits stopped in mid-March because of the spread of coronavirus.

Since April, he's needed a pacemaker and fell out of his wheelchair.

Shires said she saw him for a quick visit then.

But otherwise, he's in his room alone.

“He’s very intelligent, he knows about the virus, he knows the reasons, but sometimes he gets confused and says why aren’t you coming to see me? And it breaks your heart, it just breaks your heart to hear that,” she said.

Shires worries about Irwin's mental health and his physical therapy is on hold.

He tells her he feels like he's in a prison cell.

And she thinks outside visits won't be enough for Irwin and other residents who need extra care.

“It’s very difficult not to be able to advocate for him. Because when you can advocate for your loved one in a nursing home, you make sure that little things get done,” she said.

Sally said one comfort through all of this is there haven't been any cases of Covid-19 in Irwin's nursing home.

And their policies have been strict, which keeps residents safe.

“So there’s a lot of effort going on in the nursing homes to help them, however they’re spread so thin, they don’t have enough help,” Shires said.

Outside visitation starts at nursing homes on July 20.

About 70 percent of Covid-19 deaths in Ohio are nursing home residents, which has been the case over the last few weeks.

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