Week after nursing home visits begin, some families face cancellations due to coronavirus

Week after nursing home visits begin, some families face cancellations due to coronavirus

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Last week, many families across Ohio finally got the chance to visit their loved ones at nursing homes again, after months of separation.

But not all facilities are allowing visits.

We spoke to one woman who got her hopes up to see her husband only to get them dashed that same day.

Nursing home visits are definitely not back to normal, but they are allowed outside for a limited amount of time right now.

Still, depending on the number of cases in the community, many facilities are canceling or not scheduling visits at all.

Sally Shires’s 85-year-old husband Irwin is living in a Brunswick nursing home.

She hasn’t seen him inside of the facility since March, like most families.

“Irwin at times is very despondent, and he said I don’t want to be like this anymore, and we had tearful moments,” she said.

Irwin has advanced Parkinson's disease.

Monday was even more difficult for them to be apart than other days-- it was Irwin’s birthday.

“He got a chocolate truffle, he was so happy with that chocolate truffle. A bag of chocolate truffles, that was like the best thing that happened in four months was eating a piece of chocolate,” Shires said.

She was all set to visit him, but then visits at his nursing home were abruptly canceled.

“They can’t give us the date, yesterday when I asked they said, ‘Oh, might be a couple more weeks,’” she said.

Gov. Mike DeWine has previously said nursing homes should take into account the number of cases in their community before setting up outdoor visits.

Medina County, where Brunswick is located, was upgraded to level 3 last week, which means “very high exposure and spread.”

Shires found out the Ohio National Guard was back out, testing employees for Covid-19.

But so far there have been no cases she's heard of at Irwin's nursing home.

“If they have to test employees, that’s fine. But what does that have to do with someone like me or one of our other residents sitting on the back patio for 30 minutes, at a distance with masks on?” she said.

Shires is glad his nursing home is taking extra precautions for the virus.

But without group activities, she said it's become really hard on residents.

“Why isolate them all in their rooms? It’s cruelty, it’s like being in a cage,” she said.

So for now, their visits continue from behind a window, with no end in sight.

“But we’ve been married for, it will be 60 years in October. We know each other pretty well and we try to buck each other up a little bit and say ‘hey, we made it this far, we’ll make it through this,’” Shires said.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, more than 2,200 nursing home residents have died of Covid-19.

This includes 369 deaths from the virus before April 15, confirmed by ODH.

Nursing home deaths make up about 70 percent of deaths from the virus in Ohio.

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