BROOMALL, Pa. (CBS) — Some nursing homes are starting to open up after the coronavirus lockdown, but family visits are still a challenge. When the weather’s nice, Joe Giangiacomo’s children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews come to his window at Rosewood Gardens Rehabilitation and Nursing Home.
It’s not a new normal. It’s now a sad normal.
“It really makes a difference if we can get it in there and give him a hug. My cousin used to come all the time with food, Italian food, it’s his favorite,” Angela Giangiacomo said.
Window visits have become the sad norm at nursing homes. No hugs. No embracing. Just six-feet of space — and for some it’s no longer enough. Family members reached out to CBS3 concerned the toll it’s taking on loved-ones’ mental health is alarming. Story at 5:30p @CBSPhilly pic.twitter.com/eC0h805bmL
— Joe Holden (@JoeHoldenCBS3) September 21, 2020
The stroke survivor, who has difficulty communicating, beat COVID-19 in the spring.
The disease claimed his wife and the Giangiacomo children say it’s unclear if he knows she is gone.
He sits in his chair exchanging waves. Smiles are hard to come by as family members believe the lack of connection has left him upset and depressed.
They’re worn out on social distancing.
“We visited with him last week and his face just shows sadness, extreme sadness and we’re afraid that the isolation and depression is getting to him,” Giangiacomo said.
The Delaware County facility, like scores of health facilities across the state, had a COVID-19 outbreak in the spring.
It has since been following a phased reopening under strict health department oversight.
Families say garden visits are now permitted, but argue they want more.
“The second wave of COVID is not going to be from the virus, I feel like it’s going to be from these people dying of loneliness and depression. You got to have a happy medium,” Giangiacomo said.
“We have no rights, the family has no rights,” said Kevin Ryan.
Ryan has no connection to the Giangiacomo family, but works as a court-appointed guardian for other nursing home residents.
“They have to follow state standards, I mean that’s what this comes down to,” Ryan explained. “It’s not the facility that’s making these rules and that’s what everybody mistakes, even the families.”
“When I think about the loneliness he feels, what he’s had to endure since this all started, the fact that he survived this, I know that it would make so much of a difference if we could hug him,” Giangiacomo said with tears in her eyes.
The state has released a three-step guide and it will happen in facets. Of all of those three phases, none includes the elimination of social distancing. Click here for more information.