Photo courtesy of Dana Nimey-Olney

New York State Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D, I-Utica/Rome) spoke on behalf of nursing home residents at the Take Back Our Nursing Homes Rally on Wednesday, October 14, held at the New York State Capitol. The rally, which was organized by Utica resident Karla Abraham-Conley, was held as a call to action to improve living conditions for nursing home residents who have been isolated from their families for nearly seven months. Buttenschon was joined by Assemblymember Pat Fahy and Senator Joe Griffo as well as representatives from Assemblymember Richard Gottfried’s and Senator Rachel May’s offices.

“For the past seven months, our nursing home residents have been isolated without the ability to see their family and loved ones,” Buttenschon said. “This length of separation is simply unacceptable. I’ll always work to ensure our more vulnerable residents are not sidelined in times of great hardship, and that starts today with fighting to bring compassionate care visitors back into nursing homes.”

The NYS Department of Health (DOH) recently revised visitation to Nursing homes, which now allow nursing homes to allow visitors if the facility has been clear of any COVID-19 cases for 14 days, down from 28 days. However, visiting is still required outside, which, with temperatures quickly falling, may soon be far more limited.

Failure to thrive caused by isolation can lead to weight loss, grief, loss of verbal and ambulatory functioning, and depression, as well as accelerated decline and death in New York State nursing facilities. The Take Back Our Nursing Homes Rally called for essential caregivers, who would be classified as a friend or relative who visits at least once a week for more than an hour, to be allowed to access relatives in nursing homes or adult care facilities to help ensure their needs are being met. Essential caregivers would have to follow the same guidelines as staff members, such as weekly COVID-19 testing, symptom monitoring, and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

Photo courtesy of Dana Nimey-Olney