People in long term care ‘dying of isolation,’ Georgia group tells governor

Georgia Caregivers for Compromise

Photo of Betty
Photo of Betty

Kristian Hugo can’t hide her love for her “granny,” Betty, who is in a long-term care facility in St. Marys.

“Words can’t do it justice,” Hugo said. “She’s always been a caregiver. She’s always taken of, even as a little girl, she would go take care of the elderly.”

Hugo is frustrated and worried since the pandemic has locked her and others out of the facilities where their loved ones live.

“It’s hard when you’re hearing, you know, the talks of theme parks opening and sports and schools,” she said. “Where are we talking about our homes that, you know, our loved ones have been in for five months in isolation?”

Hugo and Maxine Williams, her aunt, are both with Georgia Caregivers for Compromise. Williams is the administrator. A letter the group wrote to Gov. Brian Kemp reads in part:

”Our loved ones are dying of isolation and loneliness and it has to stop. While we appreciate the efforts to save them from the virus, there comes a point when the effects of isolation are more deadly than the risk of contracting COVID-19.”

The organization is asking the state for:

  • A point of contact within the administration so they can make “informed decisions based on facts, not hopeful speculation”
  • A plan for reopening facilities “in a safe, smart, step-by-step way”
  • The implementation of an essential family caregiver designation program “that’s currently being implemented in Minnesota and Indiana”

Hugo says she misses the little things, like just “being there” for her granny. But she says speaking out is what she can do for her and others.

“They need us and they don’t have the voice,” Hugo said. “They don’t have the voice to tell everyone that they need us to be there and some of them, the ones with Alzheimer’s or they have dementia or are mentally incapacitated, they cannot look through a window at their loved one. They just don’t understand. It isn’t enough. They need their touch, and they need to hear their voice.”

The group is asking for Kemp to announce a plan by Aug. 3, but so far, the the group says it hasn’t received feedback from the governor.

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