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John Scalzi, who cares for his 95-year-old mother, shares emotional impact of nursing home visitation ban

Updated: Mar. 16, 2020 at 5:48 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - On Saturday, Gov. Ron Desantis announced that there would be a 30-day ban on visits to nursing homes as he acknowledged that the virus is spreading through some communities.

The recent visitation ban can make it lonely while staying at any assisted living facility, and it also impacts family members who are concerned about their loved ones.

I had the chance to sit down with John Scalzi and talk about his recent experience regarding not being able to visit his mother who is currently in a rehabilitation center.

Transcript for the interview below:

Noel - How has it been lately with the Coronavirus and trying to help out with your mom?

John - "It has so many ramifications. The first time that I experienced any kind of personal involuntary involvement with the Cornonavirus situation as supposed to voluntary, which is washing your hands and buying food stuff that you can control. The involuntary relationship began early Sunday morning when I went to visit my mom in a rehab center.

"My mom is 95-years old; she lives with us. We have been the primary caregivers for her for the last five years. Taking care of her wounds, making sure that she has clean clothes, cooking her food when necessary, cutting her food when necessary, taking care of all of her medications, everything really. And because of the new requirements for nursing homes, we were not allowed to visit. I was not allowed to visit my mom.

"So, this is the first time that she has been in a hospital environment which she has not had me there for the bulk of the day as her advocate, medical surrogate, general caretaker when nurses or CNAs where not around. It was a very very difficult thing for me. Initially, I was incredulous that it could be. When I went to the rehab center to get in, I did not know that this new regulation had come down from the Governor, so it caught me by surprise. Then following that there was that moment of anger. Then following that kind of the realization that it’s understandable that it would be case.

"There was also the understanding that the poor healthcare worker who had to stand on the other side of the glass tell loved ones that they couldn’t visit their spouses, their parents or husbands, wives. It must have just been horrific for that individual to have to be able to do that. So, that was a pretty large change in my relationship with the Coronavirus.

"As somebody’s legal medical surrogate you want to make sure that they have the best health care possible that’s number one and number two this was my mother so obviously I had that to deal with as well, not being able to see her. I understand what those regulations were about unfortunately I think that the definition of caregiver is still a rather vague one and I think everyone is coming to grips with that, and what that definition actually means.

"But you know you have to realize that we are all in this for the greater good for that population that is so highly at risk. So, we have to accept that and move on deal with it the best that we can.

"I think about when I was standing there watching a gentleman who was easily in his 80s, silver hair walking up to the door, impeccably dressed with a picture frame. And, that picture frame was a picture that span generations of family members. I’m sure. And they had been married for years; 50 years who knows. And he was told that he was there to see his wife and that and he was told that he could not do that. I can only imagine how that must have affected him and it must have been the first time in his life that he was not allowed to see his wife.

"You don’t know how many lives are affected. So, when you wash your hands, you may well be saving the life of a grandmother somewhere. It is wonderful to be able to connect in any way that you can. There are some facilities I understand which are purchasing tablets so that you can face time with your loved ones in the hospital. It’s a wonderful thing. It also helps to remind you how much you desperately want to be there. But for them, at least it’s an opportunity to connect with you and if you can do that, absolutely.”

You can also watch John’s interview on a special Suncoast View below:

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