COVID-19 In Nursing Homes: My Brother

As I write this over 10,000 long term care facility residents have passed away from COVID-19 in the U.S.A. (source ABC news).
In N.Y.S. well over 3000 have passed away from COVID-19.

My brother was one of them.

Each day I tune in to our Governor’s press conference to see if he will address this or what if anything will be done to try to improve this heartbreaking and horrific situation. 

There is no excuse for so many to have died. Period. 

Having worked in long term care, one certainty is that they are always extremely understaffed.  For profit nursing homes understaffed every day in “normal times”. 

I remember when COVID-19 first reared it’s ugly head in the community and nursing homes banned visiting. It was to protect the residents. They even started taking the temperatures of all employees as a precaution.  Temperatures?  Really? I thought to myself.  Anyone can take a tylenol and not everyone runs a temperature.  So how did the most vulnerable get infected?  Were they isolated?  Infection control?  Or, was there not the appropriate ppe (personal protection equipment) for the employees?  Everyone knows you can’t treat resident after resident, going from room to room if you don’t have the proper ppe in an infection setting.  So yes, personally I think that is how the residents became infected and subsequently died.  In the year 2020 we weren’t prepared for an infectious outbreak.  Fortunately for the remaining unaffected noncovid-19 residents our Mayor sent ppe this week.  He also sent help in the form of staffing. 

Better late than never. 

This week our Governor here in New York issued guidelines that nursing homes must follow.  One of them being that families must be notified within 24 hours if a resident tests positive for COVID-19.  They needed a Governor to tell them this?  Another one is, if a resident is sick and symptomatic they should be isolated or sent to the hospital.  Again, they needed the Governor of New York to tell them this?  

Our Borough President sent a letter to our Governor this week prior to him issuing the guidelines, describing the situation in short as “WE HAVE FAILED THE MOST VULNERABLE“.  

It won’t bring my brother back. 

Communication with families has been nonexistent.  I spoke to my brother on April 3rd.  He wasn’t his talkative self and I just chalked it up to mood. A couple of days later I received a message from the facility, “we need to talk”.  I frantically called back and couldn’t get anyone on the phone.  No one.  When I finally did, a “nurse” told me he was fine.  Fine?  I couldn’t believe my ears.  For the next couple of days I unsuccessfully tried calling throughout the day and had no success reaching any staff.  Still not knowing if my brother had COVID-19, I contacted a local official for help.  He was more successful at getting information and it was confirmed that my brother was sick with COVID-19.  He was sick but “stable” .  Later that same day he took a turn for the worse.  The only communication I had with my brother was two days before he died.  A staff member called me from her cell phone to tell me he wasn’t doing well.  His oxygen levels were low.  How can that be I thought?  His O2 was 95 yesterday.  I then spoke to my brother and he actually sounded good.  I thought to myself maybe he’ll pull through.  What I didn’t know is how quickly you deteriorate with COVID-19. The next two days were hell.  Is he alive?  Has he passed?  Why isn’t anyone picking up the phone?  Did he go to the hospital?  I begged him to go. 

On April 10th at 7 a.m. the phone rang. “We were doing rounds and we found your brother with no pulse”. Rounds? Found him? Weren’t you with him? No pulse?  Did he go to the hospital? Did he suffer?  Was he given medication?  Oxygen?Compassionate care?  ANYTHING???  

Why weren’t long term care residents sent to hospitals? We know the system was overwhelmed. We also know they deserve the same care as anyone else. (According to the N.Y. Post on April 24th, N.Y. refused to send them. It states that N.Y. officials were warned in writing that nursing homes were overwhelmed).

Unanswered questions. 

My brother died alone.  He had just turned 60 years old.

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6 thoughts on “COVID-19 In Nursing Homes: My Brother

  1. Kathy L. Reply

    Karen. I am so very sorry your brother has passed…I cannot imagine yet my heart cries for what you have been going through…and he was alone. I am so sad for you..my heart hurts. I lost one of my brothers in2018 from pancreatic cancer and he fought hard for 2 years and 9 months..but I was there with him..holding his hand when I “felt ” him “go”. I have taken comfort from that at least..but I know for you, tnere is no such comfort..and my heart cries for yours. This pandemic has affected people in unprecedented ways…soo many tragically and painfully gone too soon. I will continue prayers for you and all ypur 4 legged kids..and I will add your brother to them. He is in a better place..but I will pray for his soul to find peace. Virtual comforting hugs for you.

  2. Invisibly Me Reply

    Oh my goodness, I am so, so sorry. It sounds so hollow to say but I have nothing useful to say here because nothing will make any difference. This should never have happened. I’ve been so angry with the UK government and healthcare as are many over there with US government, but if I were to have lost a family member I don’t know what I’d do. I can only imagine how shocked and angry you must be. I’m just so damn sorry. It’s probably not of any help but please know I’m always around if ever you want to chat or just need someone to listen. Hang in there, Karen. Please take good care of yourself. Sending lots of love 🌹
    Caz xxxx

  3. Julie Wallen Burski Reply

    Just heartbreaking for you and so many others. Government fails us daily, older people neglected. God help us.

  4. Jen Burris Reply

    Absolutely heartbreaking! And so wrong! More needs to be done. Too many lives have been lost! I am so sorry this happened. I wish he had survived. What a terrible thing to happen when alone. I can’t even imagine how difficult this has been for you! I really hope and pray that you feel comfort and peace. Much love.

  5. Karen Reply

    Karen, I am so sorry, I’m sick of the way people are treated with this damn virus, and my heart goes out to you, I wish you were able to be with him, sending prayers and hugs, I wish I could do or say something to help, but know you were a good Sister to him <3 May he Rest In Peace <3 and please be safe Karen. God Bless <3

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