Jacksonville, Florida. Mary Daniel of Jacksonville, Florida hasn’t seen her husband, Steve, in 114 days after a government order forbade visitors to nursing homes because of the epidemic of the coronavirus. Steve, 66, who has early onset Alzheimer’s disease, lives in therapy, the memory of the nursing home.
Daniel, 57, said today that her husband began to live on the Rosecastle in Derwood, a nursing home in Jacksonville, in July last year. She said it was a difficult decision for him to go, but in the end, Steve showed that he thrives in an environment where he had the opportunity to talk.
Four months ago everything changed when COVID-19 pandemic in Florida. “I went to see him every night, got him ready for bed,” she said. “I went on 10 March and 11 March, they called and said, ‘You can’t go back.”
According to directives from the government Ron DeSantis, nursing homes in Florida it is forbidden to receive visitors because of the risk of spreading and Contracting COVID-19. Nursing homes and homes for the badly affected by the pandemic, because the people are older, often have health problems and live in close quarters, which could aggravate the spread of the virus to the respiratory tract.
Daniel explained that she tried to visit her husband through the window, but he said he just cried and could not understand what was happening. Later, she came up with a creative idea and reached out to Rosecastle staff and asked if she Could volunteer or get a job in a center just for the opportunity to see my husband of 24 years back in person. “They said, ‘Let’s wait to see what happens,’” Daniel recalled.
“Then, out of the blue two weeks ago they called and said, ‘you want to work?’ When I found out that it was in the dishwasher, I thought, ‘Well, okay! I think I now dishwasher’”.
When the pair are finally reunited in the face, Daniel said that Steve became teary-eyed and said her name, a sign that he learned his wife.
Daniel says that fortunately Steve’s house, which is small and has only 50 inhabitants, has zero cases COVID-19. She took a few tests for the virus, which was negative, and underwent rigorous training before starting the work in the Rosecastle.
“I had to check, a drug test, test COVID, 20 hours of video training for all, including infectious diseases. It was 100% legal”.
Daniel said that it takes COVID-19 very seriously. “The last thing I want to be reckless and to bring it there,” she said. “I checked three times. I’m not going places I shouldn’t go. If I have to go to the grocery store, I’m a social distancing”.
Daniel reports for duty two days a week for an hour-and-a-half shifts. Then she spends the evening with Steve, just as she was before the pandemic — helping him get out of his clothes and prepare for the night.
She said that the staff is happy to have her back, as they are currently overstretched and no family to spend time and help the residents.
“They were used to the family was there, we were a huge help.”
“Mary was a part of our family Derwood, as her husband, Steve, moved to our community, but we welcome her in our team,” said Kelly Withrow, Executive Director at Rosecastle in Derwood in a statement via email today.
“The restriction of visitors was implemented in communities across our state as security measures aimed at protecting vulnerable segments of the population that we serve. But it’s hard for families and locals, so we felt creative solution was needed, especially in the case with Mary and Steve. We are pleased to announce that Mary is a good start in his new role, and we are pleased to see positive changes in the behavior of Steve as well.”
Daniel believes that there is a way to remember COVID-19, without breaks of the residents of homes for elderly people in addition to their loved ones. She even started a Facebook Group called “Care for compromise”, which calls for state DeSantis, to start communicating with teachers, and to recognize the severe effects of isolation from their loved ones of nursing home residents.
“Our main goal is to make communication with the Governor,” said Daniel. “We ask about contact. A simple recommendation. What you need to get in there?” It is also to connect with other families in the same situation as she is, and exploring the different ways forward, including a visit to space in the clean room that is sanitized and outdoors.
The Governor DeSantis was added another 60 days the ban on visits to medical institutions. Now Daniel’s going to keep on working.
“I don’t mind being busy. Then I get a reward at the end,” she said of her work in the Rosecastle.
This story first appeared on TODAY.com.
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