Nursing home resident describes tough year, says there is hope ahead

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– For almost an entire year, Copper Rock Village Resident Jennifer Burks spent her time on the property at the facility. Never leaving other than an occasional doctor’s appointment.

As someone who loves the outdoors, having to stay inside hasn’t been easy for Burks.

“It’s very difficult. It’s really hard to explain to people on the outside because unless you’re in here living it like we are, you just can’t understand,” said Burks. “We just – some of us felt like we were living in prison. You know, because we just had limited visits through the glass. Which was better than not seeing family at all, but still. You miss that human touch.”

Burks says the staff did their best to make them feel loved under the circumstances that they were dealt with by the government, but it just wasn’t the same. Especially during the holidays.

“We missed all of the holidays last year,” said Burks. “I think Thanksgiving and Christmas were probably the hardest. It was very depressing. That anxiety of, ‘I need to get out of here. I need to go see my family. I need to get out of this room, I can’t stand these walls any longer.'”

Eventually, they allowed visits with a safety barrier. However, just a few days ago, the facility’s Social Services Director explained the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services loosened up restrictions a bit. Residents are now allowed 2 outings a month, for up to 24 hours at a time, and are then monitored for 14 days after their outings.

“It was, ‘Okay, I’m probably going to go out tomorrow if that’s alright.’ That’s what I did, I went out the very next day,” explains Burks.

Now, with a bit more freedom to reconnect with family, Jennifer is starting to feel whole once again.
“I can make plans now, so it’s kind of like a bird being let out of a cage,” Burks says.

Coverage on nursing homes during the pandemic continued

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Continuing our coverage of nursing home visitations, what about the family members on the outside?

Two families with loved ones inside nursing homes explained its not any easier for them to be on the outside.

“I do feel that we were really robbed of our time,” said Sharon Krnc, “it’s so unfair that this last year was taken.”

Krnc last saw her mother at Springfield Villa.

It was supposed to be her birthday tomorrow, March 15th, but she passed away a couple of weeks ago.

“She would’ve been 99 on March 15,” Krnc said.

Krnc’s mother checked into Springfield Villa, January of 2020.

But not two months later on March 12, 2020, the nursing home shut the doors.

At the beginning of 2020, window visits kept her spirits up.

But towards the end of 2020, “I really feel that she kind of gave up,” said Krnc. “I think, because of the isolation. The isolation was a big part of her dementia. She just didn’t understand why I wasn’t able to see her. In her last six weeks of her life, it was very difficult to know, what’s wrong with her? I can’t see.”

“It’s worse than being in prison,” said Edward Messerly, who was also not able to visit his brother who’s been in a nursing home since 20-17. “Other than occasionally in good weather getting out in the courtyard with the smokers, he hasn’t been able to see any family.”

And socializing inside the nursing homes has decreased as well.

“They’ve played bingo a few times in their room where they get to the door, but no happy hours, no thanksgiving parties,” said Messerly, “he has a lady friend Donna and a guy friend, Carl. And he was talking, I don’t even get to talk to them. Every once in a while he’ll get really depressed like I can’t see anybody.”

Krnc said her mom was a very affectionate person, so Springfield Villa was a good fit, “I know that there were certain people at that nursing home that absolutely would touch her and hug her.”

But it wasn’t enough, “that touch was so important,” Krnc explained, “so important. And even though she was getting it from other people, it wasn’t me.”

KOLR10 asked Springfield Villa if it would want to participate in this story but administrators declined.

Krmc said she doesn’t lay blame on the facility since it was following state guidelines for safety.

She hopes her story will help bring more awareness to families who are struggling during this time.

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