Families of nursing home residents fearful as COVID-19 spreads

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WLNE) – As the number of COVID-19 cases rises in Rhode Island nursing homes, so do the fears of families with loved ones living in facilities.

“Being not able to go see him, we don’t want him to pass on and not be there. It’s a concern,” said Jaime Ambeault of West Greenwich.

Ambeault is worried about her father, Edward, who lives at Oak Hill Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Pawtucket. The facility, as of Monday, has around 70 positive cases and has lost four residents to COVID-19.

“Obviously they tested everybody in the building, his did come back negative. They called my mom as soon as they got the results on that,” said Ambeault, who has been trying to keep her mom calm through all of this.

“It’s been very concerning. It’s been very stressful on my mom, you know, she’s elderly too, so she can’t leave the house either.”

Her father has dementia and moved into the facility last year. She said since then, he’s been declining.

“It’s been stressful cause we can’t see him, and there’s a fear that, you know, he might not remember us now.”

Staff at Oak Hill, Ambeault said, have been working with families to set up FaceTime or Zoom calls to keep in touch. But for some, their loved ones aren’t that tech-savvy.

“He’s 91, so he doesn’t have a real fancy phone,” said Betsy Olbrych, whose dad lives at a nursing home in Westerly.

“It’s been difficult because I haven’t been able to see him, and they stopped allowing us to do window visits as well.”

Olbrych’s father, Bob, has lived in the home for the past five years. Right now, she said, she’s not aware of any positive cases there, but she worries about his mental health the longer he’s isolated.

“He’s getting depressed, he’s getting kind of angry like the rest of us, you know, we’re all kind of stuck in the same situation.”

As of Monday afternoon, the Rhode Island Department of Health said both Oak Hill and Golden Crest Nursing Centre in North Providence have around 70 positive cases.

There are currently 17 nursing homes in the state with at least one positive case.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News