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.”
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.
In order to see your loved ones in Vermont nursing homes, you have to be fully vaccinated for two weeks, PLUS:
-Wear your mask the whole time
-Go through the temperature check/symptom check ordeal
-SANITIZE, SANITIZE, SANITIZE
What the hell is the point of the vaccine, then? https://t.co/ntt160i5eB
— Tom Victory, Jack of All Trades (@DrThomasVictor1) April 6, 2021
The Pines at Rutland Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation shared a post on Facebook of loved ones getting their quick hugs.