‘I never got angry,’ says daughter of Oak Hill resident now in hospice care with COVID-19

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WLNE) – Inside one of Rhode Island’s nursing homes hit hardest by COVID-19, it took just a weekend for one resident to be fighting for his life in the hospital.

“Friday he was okay, and Sunday he was off to the hospital.”

Jaime Ambeault of West Greenwich is the daughter of 76-year-old Edward Thibeault. Thibeault, who suffers from dementia, was living at the Oak Hill Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Pawtucket.

The nursing home is a hotspot for the virus. According to data from the Rhode Island Department of Health, the facility has seen as many as 80 positive cases and 15-19 deaths.

“They said he was in pretty rough shape, he was having trouble breathing,” Ambeault said, recounting the day the nursing home told her the news.

Thibeault spent almost two weeks in Miriam Hospital, and over that time, he stopped eating and quickly declined.

Ambeault and her mother were faced with the tough decision to either put him back in the home for his final days or put him in hospice care. At the hospital, the family wasn’t able to visit, but did video chat, although Thibeault is now non-verbal.

“It’s hard to make decisions you don’t really want to be making this time. We chose for the hospice just so that we could at least see him, he could hear our voice, know that we are there with him and that he’s not alone anymore.”

The hospice care facility they chose allows family members to visit, two at a time, dressed in full personal protective equipment.

Now, Ambeault and her mother are just making sure Thibeault is comfortable in his final days.

“It’s tough to see him in that condition. The virus really took a toll on his body, and with dementia as well on top of it, I guess he also did end up with the virus and on top of it another ammonia,” said Ambeault.

While it’s easy to get angry at the facility that gave COVID-19 to her father, Ambeault said she doesn’t have that outlook. She said she’s grateful for the staff and even dropped off Edible Arrangements as a way of saying thank you for caring for her dad when she couldn’t.

“Being mad is not gonna get us anywhere, and there’s no one to blame. It is what it is out there right now. It’s a very great facility. If I had another family member to go, they would be going there again because they were just great.”

To honor her father, who Ambeault said was always very giving, she and her wife donated tablets to Miriam Hospital so that more patients can video chat with their loved ones.

© WLNE-TV 2020

Categories: Coronavirus, News