A few weeks ago, nursing home workers and residents began to receive vaccinations for the coronavirus, but even full immunization will not allay the tragedy that has unfolded in long-term care — not just the deaths, but also the isolation and neglect.
Lori Smetanka, the executive director of the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, an advocacy nonprofit, told me stories of nursing home residents who’ve gone weeks without being showered or having their teeth brushed. Residents with dementia have suffered terribly from a lack of human contact, leading to depression and loss of weight, mobility and speech.
Sharon Wallace, 62, whose multiple sclerosis landed her in a Rockland County, N.Y., nursing home several years ago, said that an unattended rash recently turned into an open wound, and she described feeling lonely and trapped in quarantine. “I feel like my health is going downhill,” she told me.