MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There is only one Tennessee county left where people living in long term care facilities can have visitors. Everyone else is shut out because COVID-19 transmission rates are too high in the state’s 94 other counties.
“We couldn't go with her. We couldn't go inside the facility, now that she is there she has to be quarantined in her room, which breaks our heart she has to do that," said David Adams.
David Adams was talking about his mom Martha. Last Friday, she was placed in a Collierville long term care facility. The family couldn't take her themselves because she had recently had hip surgery, so, she had to be taken by a medical transport van. And, because of COVID-19, and visitors not being allowed in facilities across the state, the family had to say their goodbyes not knowing the next time they will all be together again.
"That is what hurt us the most - knowing we couldn't see her," said Adams.
In 94 of Tennessee's 95 counties, transmission rates are now considered above the "threshold." That means visitors can't go to long term care facilities. Only in Trousdale county are visitors are allowed, because it is below the state threshold.
"It's obviously very unfortunate to not have visitation within the facilities," said Jesse Samples.
Samples is the Executive Director of the TN Health care Association. He said the association is working on ways for facilities to manage visitation safely in the future. Samples said in the next 30 to 45 days all Tennessee facilities should have point of care testing equipment delivered, which will allow them to do testing on the spot for anyone coming into the facility, including visitors.
Samples said even though the equipment may arrive, it still could be a while before visitation is allowed.
"The first hurdle is to get the counties out of that red marker, because nothing is going to happen for those facilities in those counties until we get those numbers down," said Samples.
"My sister talked to her yesterday. My dad is talking to her today. I'm going to call her tomorrow. We are just kinda seeing how she is doing,"
Adams is taking it day by day, but the question many want to know the answer to is, when will they be able to see their loved ones face to face?
The head of the Tennessee Healthcare said he hopes sooner rather than later, but at this point no one really knows.
"I understand their frustration. It’s very difficult not to see their loved one," said Samples.