Rhode Islanders mourn loss of local nursing home residents to COVID-19


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Rhode Islanders gathered outside the Department of Health Thursday evening to honor the hundreds of local nursing home residents who have died from COVID-19.

Among the attendees was Vicki Moss, whose mother Dorothy died of COVID-19.

“After she passed, we found out that she was now testing positive and that was the cause of death on the death certificate,” Moss recalled.

Raise The Bar, the coalition that organized the event, said there have been roughly 800 resident deaths in nursing homes since March.

“Eighty percent of the deaths in Rhode Island are in nursing homes and I wanted to make sure that there was a face attached to the tragedy,” Bob Raphael, Dorothy’s son-in-law said.

The family also felt it was important to acknowledge the caregivers who ended up contracting COVID-19 while caring for sick residents.

Adelina Ramos, a caregiver at a nursing home in Greenville, said she ended up testing positive. She said nine residents at her nursing home have died since March.

“We are afraid to bring it home to our family, but we still have to go to work every day and take care of these residents because they need us at the end of the day,” Ramos said.

Raise The Bar has made it its mission to help the caregivers putting their lives on the line every day.

Coordinator Adanjesus Marin said the coalition is pushing for the Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act to pass in Rhode Island.

“It was passed unanimously in the Senate, the House opted instead of taking action to create a study commission which has no power to affect any change,” Marin said.

The legislation would make it so each facility has to legally provide a minimum of 4.1 hours to direct nursing care to each resident daily.

Marin said nursing homes will continue to have the most COVID-19 deaths in the state if the legislation isn’t passed.

Dorothy’s family said this is the first time they’ve been able to publicly mourn their loss and hopes it spurs action at the State House.

“It was important for us to be here today to at least do that a little bit and get that taken care of in some way,” Raphael said.

Marin said there’s no public record to show how many nursing home caregivers in Rhode Island have died of COVID-19.

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