EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Whenever Barbara Batz visited her mother, a resident at Orchard View Manor in East Providence, they always wore the same color.
“We have this bond, I guess, that nobody will ever figure out,” Batz said.
Batz used to visit her mom, Louise Stone, 91, three times a week. Those visits were brought to a grinding halt, however, when the coronavirus pandemic prompted Orchard View to suspend visitation in mid-March.
“It became real when I couldn’t go there anymore, and it hurts,” Batz said.
Batz said her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. She said while her mom is currently asymptomatic, she’s struggling to understand the situation.
“Unfortunately, she’s lost quite a few friends, but I’m never going to tell her that,” Batz said.
Orchard View has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. The nursing home has reported 28 COVID-19 related deaths among its residents, and at least two dozen staff members have tested positive for the virus, creating a significant staffing shortage.
Batz said despite it all, she’s grateful for all of the staff at Orchard View. She said one of her mother’s caretakers has provided her family with updates on how her mother is doing and is ensuring she is well taken care of.
“She has been like a second daughter to my mom,” Batz said. “My mom adores her, and she loves my mom like family and I’m very lucky to have that outpouring of love and support, it’s more than anyone could ask for during these times.”
Batz said she regularly writes her mother letters and speaks with her on the phone at least three times a day. While it’s not the same as visiting in person, she’s grateful she’s able to hear from her mother.
“I have to be as brave as she is, shes the rock and the foundation of the family,” Batz said.
John Oliver, an East Providence resident, said stories like these are what drove him to kickstart a fundraiser for Orchard View staff. The GoFundMe page he created has already raised more than $8,000.
“I hear the stories about how wonderful the staff is, how short-staffed they are, and like everyone else right now, they’re spread in a million different directions,” Oliver said. “So, it really feels great for everyone to come together and help them out.”
Oliver said he’s working with the city to showcase how the money is being spent so that everyone who donates knows all of the money is going directly to the nursing home.
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