LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Caregivers for Compromise is bringing their advocacy efforts to Lubbock. Since nursing homes were forced to close due to COVID-19 Texas Caregivers for Compromise have been fighting for essential family caregivers to be allowed into nursing homes to take care of their loved ones.
Mary Nichols’ mother is in a nursing home and hadn’t seen her in almost six months.
“My chest hurt, and I was so overwhelmed that I honestly thought I needed an ambulance,” said the creator of Texas Caregivers for Compromise, Mary Nichols.
COVID-19 closed her mother’s nursing home, leaving her mother in isolation, which Nichols said it took a toll on her mental health.
“There is no cognition left. She is a glassy-eyed shell of a human being that just stares and nothing, at the ceiling,” said Nichols. “I’m glad that I got in to see here, but there is no response from my voice.”
While it may not have been the reunion Nichols hoped for, it was the one she had fought for.
Back in June, after nursing homes closed, Nichols started an online petition asking state officials to allow essential family members access to nursing homes.
As part of their efforts, they put up over 300 hundred signs with the words ‘Isolation Kills, Too.’ They also included some of the names of those in isolation. They have been moving them to different cities across Texas, with them finally ending up outside a nursing home in Lubbock.
“It’s such a fitting finale for our signs for them to end up there,” said Nichols.
Pam Messick is the owner of the assisted living facility where all 300 signs are in Lubbock, and she is one of the over 3000 members of Nichols’ group.
“The reason I got involved is because of the residents I have here that I have seen going through the isolation,” said South Haven Assisted Living owner, Pam Messick.
She said it was important for her to have the signs outside her nursing home because, throughout the isolation, she had seen a decline in the health of her residents.
“The most important thing at that time and still is, is to keep them physically safe from the virus. But as time has gone on in these past eight months, the emotional and mental strain is taking its toll,” said Messick.
And since state officials have loosened restrictions on visitations, Nichols and Messick feel that like the signs, they have made progress.
“They’ve done their job. They have called attention to our cause,” said Nichols.
The signs will stay up outside South Haven Assisted Living until the end of this week. While the state now requires all nursing homes and assisted living facilities to allow visitors, many are still working to adhere to the state’s guidelines, meaning visitors are not allowed back just yet. For Nichols, until everyone is allowed to see their family, she said there is still more work to be done.