When will it be safe to visit your mom in a nursing home after coronavirus lockdowns?

May 11, 2020

Brenda Flock and Susan Ellis don’t know each other, but the two women, both 62, have been in the same level of coronavirus purgatory since early March. That’s when the senior facilities where their loved ones live stopped allowing visitors.

Flock’s mother lives "independently” with the help of round-the-clock private aides at the Watermark at Logan Square, a retirement community that offers multiple tiers of senior care. “I couldn’t see her on her … birthday, which broke my heart,” Flock said. (Maxine Flock is in her 90s and would be “horrified” if her daughter said exactly which birthday it was.) The facility has told Brenda Flock that 57 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, but not how many have died.

Flock’s mother, who had a stroke three years ago, doesn’t understand FaceTime, so Flock, wearing a red Phillies cap, comes from Roxborough to wave at her from outside. Flock always phones her mother to say good night.

Ellis has called to calm her husband, Frank, who lives in ManorCare Health Services-Wallingford, a nursing home. At 59, he has multiple sclerosis and early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. At his home, 110 people either have the virus or, like Frank, are recovering from it. The 193-bed facility won’t say how many have died, which is fine with Ellis.

Frank seems healthy now, but Susan Ellis was terrified she’d lose him after the diagnosis. “I wanted to be able to tell him it was OK.” Now the Norwood woman wishes she could hold her husband’s hand. “It’s just sad and lonely," she said, "and it breaks my heart and I know that I can’t be there and we have no choice.”