On August 20, 2020, my mother, Linda Marie Meletis, passed
away at the age of sixty-three in a transitional care hospital in
Norfolk, VA. I would like to share her story and my experiences
during the nursing home shutdown of 2020.
Prior to her illness, my mother had a very active social life. She
cherished spending time with her family and friends, who she
loved very much. My mother devoted her days to watching my
two children, while I worked full time, and would tell me that it was
a labor of love. Church was a big part and great influence in her
life, as well. Her reverence of God and her Christian beliefs were
evident as she always accepted everyone for who they were.
Growing up my mother would often share stories of her own
childhood. Her summers spent in North Carolina with her
grandparents, were always one of her fondest memories. She
often relayed stories of her grandfather and how he had fought in
World War I, World War II and The Korean War. She recounted
his love of country and that his bags were always packed and
ready if his country called him to duty. She also spoke of her
mother and the atrocities she and her family suffered during the
German occupation of France. As a result, my mother never took
anything for granted because she knew things could always be worse.
In 2016 my mother had emergency surgery for an inguinal hernia.
The surgery proved to be the catalyst to numerous hospital visits
and surgeries. For the next four years my mother underwent 9
The numerous surgeries inevitably took its toll on my mother.
Consequently, my mother was on a ventilator, had a
tracheostomy, an ileostomy and was provided nutrients via TPN.
Since we did not have the expertise to provide the specialized
care necessary, my mother was admitted to a transitional care
facility, prior to Covid. In the facility, we felt my mother would
receive the proper care necessary for her condition. While my mom was in the facility, we continued to seek professional help to get my mom better.
By all appearances my mother adjusted quite well to her new
surroundings. Despite my mother’s on-going pain, she lived each
day to the fullest. My mother enjoyed attending the many social
events that the facility held. I remember one Valentine’s Day
when she gave the gifts that she received to the Children’s ward.
True to her character my mother made the best out of any
situation she was in and never complained. She looked forward
to the daily and weekly visits from her family, friends, and pastor.
During my visits my mother would often tell me that all she
wanted was to get better, come home and bake cookies with her
grandchildren, spend time with her family and friends, and live a
simple life. We all prayed that day would eventually come.
However, in March 2020 our lives and hers changed forever.
I remember visiting my mom, with my Aunt, on the day all nursing
homes in Virginia went on lock down. Initially, I thought the
lock down would be for two weeks and told myself that visitations
would go back to being normal after that time. Unfortunately, this
was not the case at all.
Since the shuttering of nursing facilities were abrupt, I called and
to see if I could see my mother in person. Because of my
mother’s tracheostomy, she could only communicate verbally
when she had her speaking valve on. I was concerned that my
mother may not know why, all of a sudden, no one was coming to
see her. Eventually, I was granted window visits. However, this
only took place when the facility felt my mother was well enough
or not in quarantine.
These visits were not optimal as they were limited, flat without
physical contact and fully dependent on the facility and its
changing protocols. In the place of window visits we were now encouraged to continue to communicate via phone, which we used a series of taps; 1 tap for yes and 2 taps for no when asking my mom questions and/or video. This worked intermittently as the facility would either lose her phone when doing laundry. It was during one of these calls that I noticed my mother having difficulty tapping on the phone to certain questions. Recognizing something was wrong, I called the nursing station and requested a video of my mother. When I received the video, my mother did not look well. I immediately called the nurses’ station and spoke to the charge nurse to voice my concerns. I was told my mom was fine and her medications made her tired. For the next several days I called my mother and had the same concerns, which I
expressed and like before all were disregarded. Days later, under the supervision of a different charge nurse, my mother was transported to the local hospital. She was eventually diagnosed with sepsis. The hospital was unsure how my mother developed the infection or the length of time. Sadly, within a 4- month period my mother was now paralyzed. My brother and I had a conference with the facility regarding our concerns.
We questioned the conflicting information given to the
hospital by the facility, how she developed sepsis, her current
paralytic state, and the dismissal of our concerns by the charge
nurse who claimed my mother was fine. We were told that there
was a miscommunication.
Once stable my mother was discharged back to the facility. With
little notice, many unanswered questions, and no other option
available, we grudgingly placed my mother back into the facility.
She was able to move a little but did lose some motion due to
sepsis, this event advanced my mother’s condition even more.
Couple of weeks after my mom was sent back to facility, I had called the nurses’ station to check in on her, I was told that there was only a charge nurse and a trainee nurse on the entire floor unit and to call back later. That evening I received a call that my mother had blood coming up the trachea and she was being transported back to the hospital. I was told by doctors that my mom was suffering and continued to deteriorate. Consequently, my mom was placed in comfort care, and was transported back to the facility to spend her remaining
With my mom now under hospice, I spoke to the administration to
arrange for my brother and I to be with my mom. There were
limited hours that allowed us to be with her and had to follow very
strict protocols. At first, they weren’t going to allow my mom’s
mother to come in nor her siblings. I had to plead with facility so
my grandmother could be with her daughter.
On August 19, 2020, I sat at my mom’s bedside holding her hand
and reading her Bible verses. I played her favorite oldies music
and talked about the good old days. I wrapped my great
grandmother’s rosary around her tiny fragile fingers. I prayed that
my mom was in peace and still held out hope that any time, any
moment a miracle could still happen.
A nurse came in and checked my mom’s vitals, I was told that I
needed to get in contact with family members, so they could make
the 3-hour drive to the facility to say their goodbyes. I had to get
my charger from my car and was escorted by one of the nurses.
As we were on the elevator together, she said to me how if it was
one of her family members, she would have made sure that her
family was already there. She was also the nurse who told me
that I had spent enough time with my mom and that there were
limited hours set by the facility for us to be allowed in there. I felt numb
and didn’t say anything because I was afraid I could possibly get
The day of my mom’s passing, I picked up her belongings from
the facility. There was an untouched box of fudge that I brought to
her from the beach a couple of months prior to her passing away. I
think about it now and wonder if anyone attempted to give her the
fudge…I know she would have loved it. I dropped off an Easter
basket and cookies/brownies for the staff, hoping that they would take
good care of my mother.
My mom spent her last Easter, Mother’s Day by herself.
I have sent numerous emails to elected officials about my Mom with little response, it has basically fallen on deaf ears. I would like to know
why my Mom wasn’t kept safe. Families were torn apart; this
wasn’t an act of God. Patients rely on their loved ones to
advocate for them, and that right was taken away. This is
America, where was the patients’ freedom and rights when their
loved ones were kept out?
My mother was a vulnerable patient and relied on the staff to
properly take care of her. I don’t believe my mom received the
proper care, especially with banning her loved ones who
advocated for her and she needed her family around. When we were
allowed in prior to COVID-19, we always addressed concerns if we
saw something that wasn’t right.
There were so many protocols in place by the facility but there
weren’t measures for mitigating to prevent my mom from
isolation. My mom would be locked in her room due to quarantine
for two weeks, after any time she returned from the hospital. No
window visits were permitted during that time, recreation wasn’t
allowed in the room to at least do a video, so we could see how
she was doing during her return from the hospital.
The shutdown prevented my mom from seeing her loved ones, they
claimed to be keeping her safe from covid but all it did was isolate her,
causing depression and infections that manifested.
I believe that if I was able to be there in person this wouldn’t have
escalated like it did. The culprit to my mother’s death wasn’t
COVID-19. I have no doubt that the mandates during COVID-19 shutdown of 2020 caused my mother’s death sooner than what it could
have been. What happened was detrimental and people need to
know the truth. Criminals were being released from jails and into
society during Covid019, but patients who did no wrongdoing were
being kept from their loved ones.
What happened in these facilities with locking patients down and keeping them away from their families were inhumane, it was a complete nightmare. Precious time was lost during the five months of my mom’s life. She was kept away from her family during that time. Often, I was told by staff that my mom was depressed due to not being
allowed to see her family. My mom and so many other patients
didn’t deserve to be torn from their families and have their rights
stripped away. What happened there and at so many other
facilities shouldn’t have occurred. No matter shutdown or not, it
should have been handled differently.
I was blessed to have one of the best Mom’s and will always cherish the memories, her legacy will always live on through us. I feel her around me often and know that her suffering no longer exists and she’s free; she will always remain in my heart, until we’re together again. I hope that my Mom’s story opens the eyes of many, and that these vulnerable patients don’t go unnoticed for what they endured during the Covid-19 shutdown.
Please peruse our Advocacy Timeline in the Media and Events from 2020-2022
We were invited to present our work at National Consumer Voice.
After 9 long months, the Supreme Court ruled for our Founder to have essential neuro-care visits with her loved one based on 483.10.
March 12, 2021 we held another Rally to remember our lost residents and to advocate for our Essential Care Visitor Bill to be signed.
Our State Legislature called us to tell us that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed our Bill!!! Essential Care Visitor's in New York State will never be locked out again.
Essential Care Visitor serves daily our loved ones and their families