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COVID-19 making it difficult to say goodbye to loved ones nearing death

Posted at 12:13 AM, Apr 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-12 00:13:45-04

AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — This virus is creating difficult situations for just about everyone. Some of those situations are more difficult than others. That's especially true for people who can't spend time with an aging family member nearing death.

Margaret McDonald is 99 years old. According to her family, she does not have COVID-19, but she is dying.

“She may die in the next couple of days,” said Aileen Stewart, Margaret’s mother.

She's staying at the Rosa Coplon nursing home at the Weinberg Campus in Getzville.

As a precaution for COVID-19, the nursing home, like every nursing home across the state, stopped allowing visitors a little under a month ago. According to the state there are very few exceptions to that mandate. One is for "family members of residents in imminent end-of-life situations."

Margaret's family says that applies to their situation. But they say, they're not being allowed into the nursing home to say goodbye. They have talked with their mother over FaceTime.

“This is an exception that they should allow us, one last time, to be with our mother,” said Stewart.

A statement from the Weinberg Campus CEO reads:

“We are following the Federal guidelines that restricts visitors to nursing homes with the exception of end of life situations. The visitor restriction is extremely important due to the fact that coronavirus / COVID-19 is widespread in the community. The determinations regarding end of life situations are made by our clinical team. We are not permitted to share information on specific residents. We have been allowing visitors in end of life situations.”

On April 7th, the CEO of Weinberg Campus explained in a letter that there was a part-time employee who works at the Rosa Coplon facility who tested positive for the virus. That worker is now under quarantine.

This pandemic is creating difficult situations, for nursing homes and for families. One family hopes they can say one last goodbye.

“All we wanted to do is make sure that she does not die by herself,” added Stewart.