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Proposed Texas amendment would bar nursing homes from denying their residents visitors

Nursing homes
Posted at 6:03 PM, Oct 20, 2021

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Many people had a difficult time handling their emotions and mental health when they weren’t allowed to see their loved ones in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic’s quarantine period.

Irma Charles Mata was one of those people who went through a challenging time. She’s a resident at the Palms Nursing and Rehabilitation in Corpus Christi. The facility didn’t allow her to have any visitors because of the pandemic.

“It was very hard, very lonely, depressed,” Mata said.

Eight long months, that’s how long residents weren’t allowed to see their loved ones, hardly even getting to leave their rooms.

“And I would cry a lot. I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t leave,” Mata said about spending much of her time in her room.

A proposed amendment, Proposition 6, the Right to Designated Essential Caregiver Amendment, will be voted on in the November 2 election. It would add an amendment to the Texas Constitution that would allow residents of nursing and assisted living facilities, like Mata, to have what is called an “essential caregiver”.

An essential caregiver is a person that will always be allowed to visit the facility. The amendment would not allow facilities to bar the essential caregiver from seeing their loved ones.

The Palms Nursing and Rehabilitation has been allowing residents to have two essential caregivers since about March.

Elia Bernal is another one of the residents who had a hard time not seeing her sister, who is her essential caregiver. She joined the facility in February 2020, the month before the pandemic’s shutdown, and was used to seeing her sister everyday.

“Very exciting, yeah, happy to see her, I was very happy to see her,” Bernal said about being able to see her sister twice a week now.

Gloria Cabrera is Bernal’s sister, and said she would often use video chat to talk to her when she couldn’t see her in-person, as well as come see her outside her window. She said not being able to see her sister was challenging, but it is now a blessing from God to be able to rekindle their relationship in-person.

“We look at it as a transition period and something to learn from, that we have to cherish every moment that we have together with our family,” Cabrera said.

However, not everyone had trouble being in a room all alone. Pam Pond, another resident, is used to being alone because she doesn’t have any family to come visit her. She said that’s what helped her adjust to the pandemic solitude.

“It didn’t bother me. I had my TV, I had my little thing that I could play my games on and stuff, so I kept myself entertained,” Pond said.