March 12, 2020 - FOR ME, FOR YOU, FOR OUR LOVED ONES, IT FELT LIKE ABANDONMENT DAY. For many hundreds of us, it was the last day we ever saw our loved ones. For 120,000 others, it was the last day we saw them as we knew them and for many, many months.
But for our loved ones? What must they have felt? Abandonment, despair, loneliness, hoplessness, fear, confusion, a desire for death over enduring isolation?
I can barely type these words without sobbing at the thought of my mother descending into a total loss of cognition with no idea why her daughter abandoned her.
What must our loved ones have suffered hearing "see you tomorrow" when tomorrow never came?
Governor Abbott announced on September 17, 2020 that beginning September 24th, facilities would be allowed to offer essential caregiver visits. That was the first time we had heard any public official use the words from our proposal, "essential caregiver". But it took time for facilities to get their policies and proceedures in place and many essential caregivers did not get in for weeks after that.
We found allies in our elected officials in Texas and now, residents in Texas long-term care facilities are protected from wholly being isolated ever again with essential caregiver legislation.
We have also found a sympathetic ear and an ally in Senator John Cornyn so it may very well be that our work in Texas helps long-term care residents in other parts of the United States as well.
Our group, Texas Caregivers for Compromise, was birthed of this tragedy and our story is worth repeating over and over and over. We helped change Texas in honor of people we love and that means something.
But no band of constituents should have to work as hard as we have and spend as much out of their own pockets to protect the rights of loved ones. Yet we have done it to make sure residents are never abandoned again, their rights are secure, and they are protected from the potential for abuse and neglect.
And we are #notgoingaway.