WOONSOCKET, R.I. (WPRI) ─ When Gov. Gina Raimondo gave Rhode Island nursing homes the green light to ease visitation restrictions, Theresa Campbell was excited to schedule a visit with her 93-year-old mother.
But Campbell was extremely disappointed to learn that the facility, Woonsocket Health and Rehabilitation Centre, has opted to forego visitation for the time being.
“I get a phone call back, ‘Mrs. Campbell, I’m sorry but we haven’t filed the proper paperwork protocol that we have to send in,'” she recalled.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Campbell said she visited her mom, who’s been living at the facility for nearly 10 years, two-to-three times a week.
For the past few months, Campbell said the only way she can reach her mom is by phone, and more often than not, she can’t get through.
“She couldn’t call out, we couldn’t call in,” Campbell said. “When I would call they would say ‘Oh we’ll give her the message because we don’t want them out of their rooms.'”
Campbell said she hasn’t received any explanation as to why she can’t get a hold of her mother when she wants to talk to her.
Target 12 reached out to the facility about Campbell’s situation. Administrator Peter Pezzelli said they do plan on allowing visitations soon, but they’re not quite ready yet.
“We need to keep residents and staff safe, so that concern takes first priority,” Pezzelli said. “We are required to wait a minimum of 28 days after the last COVID-19 positive in house test result from resident or staff.”
Pezzelli said they’ve recently had both, meaning they’re nowhere closer to allowing visitation.
Campbell said that doesn’t explain why she can’t reach her mother by phone.
“I should be able to call and say, ‘Hey I want to talk to Adrena Campano,'” Campbell said. “‘Well, they’re not allowed out of their room.’ She’s very feisty, she has snuck out a few times [to call her] and I hear them say ‘Adrena get back in your room.'”
The latest data released on by the Rhode Island Department of Health shows the facility currently has between 85-to-89 cases of COVID-19, but hasn’t had any additional resident cases within the last 14 days.
Pezzelli said the facility has been following guidelines put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the R.I. Department of Health, which is why they’re quarantining residents in their rooms, but added: “At present, however, only newly-admitted residents are quarantined, and these for 14 days as per DOH guidelines.”
He also said that telephone access is “widely available throughout the facility to all residents, even for those who do not have their own cell phones or in-room landline.”
“We have been sending out via e-mail and hard copy regular updates on the status of COVID-19 in the building and we have mentioned the availability of Zoom and Facetime, etc.,” Pezzelli continued.
Campbell said she hasn’t seen her mother since February and she just wants to spend time with her while she’s still here.
“Look at her, let her know that we care,” she said. “We didn’t give up. We didn’t. We’re fighting for her. I’m fighting for her because here she is in there and has nobody.”