Nursing home rally happening Wednesday in Albany

Many families haven’t seen their loved ones in-person since March. ALBANY, N.Y. — Families with…

Many families haven’t seen their loved ones in-person since March.

ALBANY, N.Y. — Families with loved ones in nursing homes are planning a rally in Albany on Wednesday. They are upset with the state over the rules preventing many of them from visiting their family members.

Some of them have loved ones still in nursing homes, and they aren’t able to visit in-person. Others have lost family members since March.

2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik talked with three of the rally’s organizers Monday over Zoom. Karla Abraham-Conley is from Utica. She started a Facebook group as an advocate. Her mother passed away earlier this month after being in a facility. She didn’t die of COVID. Karla says her mom died from failure to thrive and not being able to see her family.

The women hope to make a statement about families not being allowed to see their loved ones for seven months. They want to change that and get families status as compassionate care visitors.

Wednesday afternoon, the women are hosting a Take Back Our Nursing Homes rally at the State Capitol in Albany. It’s from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and they plan on bringing photos of their loved ones with them.

Abraham-Conley showed 2 On Your Side a photo of her mom taken in January and one taken after the pandemic hit.

“The picture I have of my mother from September 27, if you didn’t know better, you would have thought you were looking at a dead person,” Abraham-Conley said.

The women found each other online mostly through Facebook groups they created, and they’ve had enough with not being allowed to see their loved ones. The women are trying to get an Executive Order or legislation signed allowing family members to be compassionate or essential care visitors so they can see their family members in-person. 

They say it is their right to be able to see them, and they understand they would have to be COVID-free.

Marcella Goheen’s husband is in a nursing home.

“My husband is a COVID survivor,” Goheen said. “He was victimized by the COVID. He got it. He lived through it, thank God, and now he’s victimized once again because he can’t receive his family, meaning his wife, and October is residents’ rights month, so as per what Karla said, we thought it would be a fine time to have a rally where we highlight the fact right now that October is residents’ rights month, and in New York State, the residents don’t have the, they can’t exercise their right to receive their family.”

So, Goheen wants to be able to visit her husband to make sure he survives since he has been isolated without his family.

Abraham-Conley’s mom, Rosie, just passed away eight days ago. She was at a nursing home because she had Alzheimer’s, but her condition quickly deteriorated as soon as the lockdown started. Abraham-Conley says that’s because she and her dad couldn’t see her every day anymore. That’s been a big problem for a lot of families across the state. Their loved ones survived COVID, or didn’t get it when it was infecting a lot of the nursing homes, but now they’re confused about not being able to visit their families in-person.

“Tried to explain it to her every day in the FaceTime, I’m sorry we’re not there, Mom, we’re locked out,” Abraham-Conley said. “There’s a bad virus. Some days she got it. Other days she just didn’t understand where are we. We tried a window visit. It was heartbreaking. It was so heartbreaking. She just didn’t understand why we were right there, but we couldn’t touch her. Why were we not taking her.”

Abraham-Conley was very involved, keeping in touch with her mom’s care team. But by September, her mom was having major health problems.

Abraham-Conley now wants to fight for other families to honor her mom’s legacy, so that’s why she started her Facebook group and is co-hosting the rally.

The organizers understand that it might be difficult to go to the rally, and that people are concerned about COVID-19, so there are a bunch of resources online. They have telecare giving resources for people too, since that’s new to mostly everyone.

They also want people coming to the rally to bring big photos of their loved ones to make an emotional statement.

Since they all found each other online, the women say they are feeling a little better about this situation. Abraham-Conley says that by keeping the Facebook pages professional and keeping profanity out — even though people are really upset — she feels like they can get results. Because of that, they’re getting the attention of their state legislators.

“You have to be smart,” Abraham-Conley said. “Am I angry? Oh, Kelly, I’m angry. I’m really angry and I’m really angry that my mother’s dead because of this. My heart of broken, but it doesn’t change the day. It doesn’t change anything. We still have to move forward, and we have to save all the rest of the Rosies.”

She says once they’re successful in New York, they will go to the next state that needs help.