‘They failed my grandma’: RI man says more needs to be done to protect the elderly from COVID-19

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NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A North Providence man is urging state officials to do more to help Rhode Island’s nursing homes, which are being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Joshua Nason’s grandmother, Izelina Marques, was a resident at Summit Commons in Providence.  He said she died there on Friday after they believe she contracted COVID-19.

“She had dementia and Alzheimer’s, she was somebody that my mom and daughter would go visit every day,” Nason explained.

Related: Family looking for answers as nursing home resident battles COVID-19 »

Nason said his grandmother’s initial COVID-19 test came back negative, but her second test came back inconclusive. Despite the unclear results, Nason said COVID-19 is the only explanation for her sudden decline in health.

“We know the virus was spreading rapidly in her nursing home, she was 76 years old, the more you age, the more you have going on, but she wasn’t knocking on death’s door,” Nason said.

Nason said he wishes his family had heard more from his grandmother’s nursing home. 

“We found out through a third party, by another resident’s family member,” Nason said of his grandmother’s sudden decline in health. “We didn’t even know she was on oxygen, once we found that out, in a few days or so she just quickly declined, and she passed.”

The Rhode Island Department of Health said there are nearly 100 confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Summit Commons. A spokesperson for Summit Commons tells Eyewitness News that the staff in Marques’ situation did everything correctly.

But Nason is concerned about residents in nursing homes across the state and said more needs to be done to better protect the elderly.

“They failed my grandma and a lot of other people’s grandmas,” he said.

Business has been slow recently for Nason, who works as a wedding videographer. That’s why he’s volunteering to make trips to the grocery store for those who are part of the vulnerable population.

He’s also challenging others to do the same.

“I have some extra free time on my hands, I want to help people out by connecting on Facebook if possible, but I don’t have a streamline operation in place so, if you are seeing this and you have any extra time on your hands, reach out to those around you that are affected by this, or are frightened, and see how you can help them,” Nason said.

Nason said he hopes his story will inspire others to lend a helping hand to those who need it during these unprecedented times.

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