UTICA, N.Y. -- State lawmakers, on Wednesday, joined forces and voices with constituents who have loved ones in nursing homes, to call for immediate and long-term change in the facilities.
"I just want to take a moment and let you know what isolation and failure to thrive look like. This is my mother. She was used to us being at the nursing home every single day," said Karla Abraham-Conley, as he held up 'then and now' pictures of her rapidly-deteriorating mother.
"She walked into the building Sept. 12 and I say she walked. She can no longer walk. She has atrophied. She has lost a ton of weight," said a visibly sad Abraham-Conley. "There's not enough staff in there to feed her properly. I'm not allowed to go in. My father is not allowed to go in. My mother will die from isolation and failure to thrive. I have been advocating for the essential caregiver plan. It is important. It doesn't cost us anything."
"What the essential caregiver does is the family then can have somebody go in and they can actually help do things staff do there with the shortages of staff, maybe helping to feed, things of that nature," said Senator, Joseph Griffo.
Griffo plans to introduce the Essential Caregivers Act. For now, he and the other lawmakers at a press conference Wednesday, as well as the advocates who joined them, are calling for a loosening of visitation restrictions in nursing homes, pointing out that if visits could be safely carried out in prisons, they can be safely carried out in nursing homes.
"The masks that everybody wears today, if they really work, lets allow family members to wear those masks. I know family members that would probably fully gown up just to make sure they're able to meet their loved ones," said Assemblyman, John Salka.
Assemblyman Brian Miller, a Covid survivor, spoke from experience.
"I could use technology. I had an ipad there and we had facetime," said Miller. "For some of the other residents in these nursing facilities, the technology isn't there."
"If you take only one thing with you today, let it be this: If your mother, your father, your loved one, called you and described the facility that they're residing in as living in the depths of hell, would you want them to remain there? If you answered no to that question, let today be the day that change begins," said care advocate, Ruth Wallace, whose mother is in a nursing home.