The not-for-profit center in Yonkers is one of the largest pediatric nursing homes in the country. Its officials and families are pleading with the state Department of Health to loosen visiting restrictions.

Desperate for contact when the center barred visitors this spring, several parents started living in their children’s rooms, knowing that if they left, they couldn’t return. One mother stayed nearly three months.

“I can’t tell you how many parents I’ve seen sobbing outside that fence,” said Patricia Tursi, the center’s chief executive officer.

The Department of Health requires the facility to follow nursing home rules that ban visits for 28 days if a staffer or resident tests positive for Covid-19. Center officials say their facility should be treated as a hospital, which would allow each child to have a parent at the bedside.