Vermont’s COVID nursing home policies are harsh on elderly, family member says

A family member of an elderly woman in the care of Barre Gardens, a nursing home in Barre City, says the state’s COVID-19 policies for patients and their families are violations of their rights.

On Mother’s Day, Melissa Casey, the daughter of a nursing home patient with dementia, posted on social media that she wished things could be better for her mother.

“My mother is being mistreated and abused by our government,” she wrote. “She and many others are being used as political pawns in a sick, evil scheme. Families are being manipulated to do as they say, and [then] you can see your loved one.”

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UNDER TIGHT RESTRICTIONS: A Vermont woman from Barre says her elderly mother is suffering under overbearing restrictions related to COVID and nursing homes.

In an email to True North Reports, Casey said she thinks elderly nursing home patients are being “weaponized against their own families.”

As an example, she forwarded an April letter from Valerie Cote, administrator at Barre Gardens, addressed to all the nursing home residents and representatives detailing visitation procedures.

“We know the 20-minute time slots are not a long visit, but we want to offer the most visits we can for now to our Residents,” the Barre Gardens letter states. “As guidance from the state changes, hopefully, we will be able to relax the current restrictions.”

The nursing home’s letter added that the vaccination status of visitors may determine special privileges, including hugging.

“Please remember that if your loved one here is fully vaccinated, you may give them a quick hug upon arrival and departure for your visit,” the letter said. “That being said, while the visit is occurring, we please need you to sit at the opposite end of the table in the visitation area and remain seated for the duration of the visit. We also need your mask to remain on at all times, even when hugging your loved one.”

Gov. Phil Scott’s Vermont Forward Plan for reopening the state by July 4 includes having most situations return back to pre-pandemic normality. However, as the letter from Barre Gardens notes, “healthcare and the education system do not fall into these re-opening phases.”

True North reached out to Cote to discuss how state COVID-19 regulations might harm elderly patients, but she declined to comment. However, she said there were no new cases of the virus currently at the home.

This is little comfort to Casey, who called restrictions on seeing her mother “crimes against humanity.”

“Governor Scott has the audacity to pontificate protecting the most vulnerable Vermonters? These policies are crimes against humanity and the most ungodly, unholy actions ever perpetrated against citizens. I am only one family member — there are hundreds more,” Casey told True North.

Casey’s frustrations with nursing homes in general are shared by other Vermonters. A post by @DrThomasVictor1 on Twitter summarizes what some visitors have to do in other places in Vermont.

The Pines at Rutland Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation shared a post on Facebook of loved ones getting their quick hugs.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Public domain

2 thoughts on “Vermont’s COVID nursing home policies are harsh on elderly, family member says

  1. Thank you Michael and True North for helping shine a light on this issue. Particularly, my Mom suffers from dementia. She is not capable of understanding the constant testing, vaccination, masking, and whatever else they are putting her and many others through before and now. There is no informed consent here. If it were not for her condition, she would not be there and she would never consent to the testing or inoculations. If the vaccines work, there is no need to continually test them or mandate masks. It is elder abuse and it must stop.

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