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Mom was 87 and suffered from Dementia and possibly Alzheimer’s (they were just beginning to diagnose). We moved her into an assisted living place August 1, 2019. She was settling in and receiving excellent care for approximately 9 months until her facility had to lockdown. My siblings that live nearby were no longer able to visit and Mom was not allowed to leave her small room. Meals were brought to her and they assigned her a “staff buddy”. She quickly went downhill mentally and became immobile and unable to walk. When it was suggested she be moved to a rehab facility where they could help her walk again, we agreed. She made excellent progress! We were assured that their entire staff wore full PPE. Window visits were allowed and Mom got only two because the rehab place was further away from family.Things were going well until they called saying she had been exposed. She continued to have negative Covid test. She had no symptoms but was isolated. A few days later they called to say her temperature was going up a bit in the evenings but they were able to get it back down with Tylenol. Still she was testing negative. We were not able to speak with mom during her isolation because they were so overwhelmed and phones were not available in the rooms. Patients were allowed to have their cellphones but because of mom’s dementia she could not manage a cellphone. I called her rehab on July 14th, to get an update and asked them to give Mom a message… “happy birthday”. The very kind staff member arranged for a call back, using a staff member’s personal cellphone and I was able to speak with Mom and wish her a Happy Birthday. She sounded great but didn’t realize it was her Bday. Two days later, they called to say she had a positive test. They told us that if her only symptom was this fever, on day 10 she would be considered “out of the woods” and likely recover. On day 9 she began to have trouble breathing and X-rays showed she had Covid pneumonia in both lungs. She declined and doctors had little options other than a ventilator. We were told she wouldn’t recover and she was moved to yet another facility even further away from family. She died without family and with strangers. We were unable to have a funeral or memorial service. We have a box of ashes. Mom was an elementary teacher, mother, aunt, grandmother, great grandmother. She spent her life caring for others and it is tragic that she had to die this way.

Catherine Cute, South Dakota 

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