NEW YORK — March 12th was the last day Deborah Forest-Novick visited her husband Ralph at his nursing home in Manhattan.
Before the facility was closed to visitors because of the pandemic, she saw him every day; bringing him his favorite foods, doing his laundry and playing games together to keep his mind sharp.
She was joined by others who call themselves essential care visitors for a rally outside of Governor Cuomo's Midtown office.
"It is very hard to talk about, it just makes me cry," said Forest-Novick.
They are asking to be let inside so they can see and care for their loved ones.
What You Need To Know
- Essential Care Visitors rallied outside of Governor Cuomo's Midtown office asking him to ease visitation restrictions at nursing homes and other long term care facilities
- They want Cuomo to sign an executive order that would allow them to get inside these facilities
- They said their loved ones health is deteriorating without their visits and the care they provide
Essential care visitors say without their visitation and supplemental care, the health of their loved ones is deteriorating.
Adding, there is now a second public health crisis underway in the state's nursing homes.
They say it is isolation.
Denise Almodovar says her husband of 51 years was used to seeing her every day.
"I am not sure if he remembers me sometimes. I get scared because with the dementia they start forgetting they start regressing. This is what worries me. I don’t want to be far away from him," said Almodovar.
Kathy Kelly is a social worker in a hospital and says she can take care of strangers but not her own mother.
"She is dying before my eyes. It is almost worse that she survived COVID because she is tortured," added Kelly.
The essential care visitor group says a bill has been proposed to the state legislature that would amend current law and allow their visitation even during a pandemic. But they say they can't wait for that bill to be passed and need an executive order by Governor Cuomo as soon as possible.
"We are less than 1 percent and we still can’t get in. Other states have adopted an essential care visitor plan with higher percentages of COVID and they are allowing family members to come in and do the essential care that the loved one needs," said Marcella Goheen.
The State Health Department says it understands how difficult the pandemic-related restrictions have been for all New Yorkers.
"We continue to be guided by science and concern for residents’ welfare and will monitor facilities that host visitors, to ensure this action does not lead to an increase in cases,” the department said.