Let families visit loved ones in nursing homes
Like thousands of people nationwide, we have not been able to see our loved ones in nursing homes since a nationwide ban on visiting loved ones in nursing homes was put in place on March 13, 2020. Though this was done with the best of intentions, since the elderly residents of nursing homes are perhaps the most vulnerable segment of our population to the COVID-19 virus, this regulation was put into place hastily without considering its many Ill effects. Its stated objective is to prevent the COVID-19 virus from entering nursing homes, but it is a burdensome, inefficient, and unnecessary method that causes more harm than good.
Most nursing homes receive very few visitors, numerically, in comparison to the numerous people employed there. So this small number of people and the families they are prevented from visiting have been suffering needless emotional harm, when they are less likely to bring in the virus than the much larger number of staff members. Spouses and siblings of nursing home residents, in particular, tend to be much older than the staff working at the homes and tend to live alone and come into contact with few people who might expose them to the virus. Unlike the many people working in nursing homes, they do not go home to spouses, children, and other family members, all of whom may have come into contact with multiple people who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. The senior spouses of nursing home residents, in contrast, practically invented “social isolation,” because they receive as few visitors at home as their spouses receive in the nursing home. The isolation and loneliness of our senior citizens is, in itself practically a national epidemic, and the ban on visiting at nursing homes only exacerbates it.
If visiting family members were subject to the same precautions as the nursing home staff — such as temperature checks, wearing PPE, and answering health questions — they would be no more likely to bring in the virus than those working there, maybe even less likely. Family members would surely submit to being tested for the COVID-19 virus (by means of the swab) if this would permit them to be "cleared" to visit their loved ones. Family members, especially spouses of nursing home residents, have been separated from their loved ones long enough. It is time for our federal and state health agencies and our nation's governors to implement a plan to allow these family members to safely visit their loved ones, as soon as the necessary precautions can be put into place.
We urge all readers to contact all those who have the authority to implement this change, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; the Texas Department of State Health Services (or the equivalent agency in other states); as well as the governors who have been delegated by the President to put such orders into place.