Frank Fontana and his daughter, Liz Marciano, visit with their wife and mother, Sharon Fontana, at Kimberly Hall North in Windsor to surprise her for the Fontana’s 60th wedding anniversary. Cloe Poisson / CTMirror.org

Nursing home residents and their loved ones need help to understand the wisdom in allowing nursing homes to pause testing if facilities have no new cases of COVID-19 among residents and staff for 14 days.

This decision is out of step with the Nursing Home Reopening Recommendations set out by the Federal Department of Health and Human Service and is certainly out of step with the needs of nursing home residents.

But who is asking  the residents and their families?

Who is asking the stalwart but weary nursing home nurses and CNAs? 

Given the fact that there is no end in sight to the soon to be six-month isolation of over 20,000 nursing home residents, this pause in testing is wrong.  If blanket immunity wasn’t enough of an outrage, this decision to relax testing  further exacerbates the disregard for the Residents’ Bill of Rights. No one would suggest a reckless opening of nursing homes, but the time is long overdue to follow suit with Minnesota and Indiana who have issued guidelines for essential caregivers.

Family members play an essential part in maintaining the well being of a nursing home resident. Thousands of family members were by the side of their loved ones in nursing homes every day! Family is essential. 

On June 9 Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Diedre Gifford signed an order that stated “patients with disabilities may have one designated support person with them to support their disability related needs” but on July 21 she said the state has only begun the process to “establish how we can safely loosen restriction on visitation in nursing homes.” Why the distinction? Are nursing home residents not disabled?

Isolation is causing irreparable damage and must come to an end. What is taking Connecticut so long?

Elizabeth Stern lives in Stonington.

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