LIBERTY, Ohio (WKBN) – A Trumbull County man wrote a letter to Ohio Governor Mike DeWine wanting permission to see and talk with his dying mother, who is currently in a nursing home.
The only way Bob Giering, of Bazetta Township, and his three siblings are allowed to communicate with their 83-year-old mother Shirley is through a window at the Shepherd of the Valley facility in Liberty.
“I just want to go in and be with my mother, let her hear my voice. I want to touch her and let her know that we’re here. She’s completely lost,” Giering said.
“I sympathize with our families. I see our residents every day and it breaks my heart,” said Danielle Procopio, with Shepherd of the Valley.
Procopio says they are following orders regulated by the state.
“If we were to allow the family members into the buildings, we would be violating those policies and those orders,” she said.
“But there’s got to be different ways for people to able to see their loved ones, whether it’d be a separate room that they’re taken into, me wearing a full gown, a mask,” Giering said.
“So it’s not as simple as us providing a space that’s out of the way and putting someone in gear in order to allow them to come in. We just are simply not allowed by the governor to have visitation right now,” Procopio said.
Two weeks ago, Giering and his siblings were allowed a short visit with their mother outside. But since then, Shepherd of the Valley has had a patient test positive, which, under the governor’s orders, stops all visitations.
“They’re not really dying of the COVID-19 virus, they’re dying of loneliness. They’re not used to being alone. They think they’re forgotten and it has taken its toll on my mother,” Giering said.
“The restrictions are not something that our residents are used to or that anyone is crazy about. It’s just as hard for us to enforce them as it is for the families to abide by them,” Procopio said.
Should someone be actively dying or should they be in the last few days of their life, Shepherd of the Valley is allowed to have family inside.
Gov. DeWine’s office sent the following statement on the matter.
“Residents in Ohio’s nursing homes are some of Ohio’s most vulnerable to COVID-19. Ohio’s safety guidelines regarding nursing homes balance the needs of residents with our obligations to help protect them.”