GRANTS PASS, Ore. — “I want to know that my mom’s going to be safe there. I want to know that I can call there tomorrow and she’s still going to be there,” said Rhonda Peoples, daughter of ‘Highland Health and Rehabilitation’ resident.
It’s a situation beyond Peoples’s control and that, she says, makes it all the more terrifying.
“I stopped by there to see my mom but I couldn’t touch her, hug her, I had to talk to her through a window or over the fence. I couldn’t even hold her hand,” said Peoples.
It’s been months since Peoples was able to see her 65-year-old mother Deborah who lives at ‘Highland Health and Rehabilitation’ in Grants Pass.
A spokesperson at the facility declined to go on camera, but tells NBC5 News a staff member and a resident recently tested positive for Covid-19.
“I just need to see her. Need to talk to her. Not through a window,” said Peoples.
Long term care facilities in the Rogue Valley have been bearing the brunt of the recent spike in Covid-19 cases.
Medford’s Avamere Three Fountains is now at 124 coronavirus cases and 10 deaths.
Table Rock Memory Care is now at 108 cases and 11 deaths.
“She has half of her left lung missing, she is in remission of lung cancer,” said Peoples.
The numbers, only adding to Peoples’s anxiety.
“She’s gone through the chemotherapy,” she said.
“Most of the residents in long-term care facilities are high risk. Generally speaking, when you look at all the deaths… most are older people,” said Josephine County Public Health Officer Dr. David Candelaria.
Dr. Candelaria says long-term facilities test staff for Covid-19 at least on a weekly basis.
But that doesn’t mean the facilities are bulletproof.
“When they got their weekly test, they didn’t have enough virus in them to trigger a positive. They went around their work. They wore all the PPE, but nothing in life is 100 percent,” said Dr. Candelaria.
If you’re a family member worried for a loved one’s safety, Dr. Candelaria says frequent communication with the facility is key.
He says once a case has been discovered, the facility has to isolate the people exposed.
But a single case doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will be infected.
Dr. Candelaria recommends calling.
“How is Uncle Joe dealing with the outbreak? Is he being informed? Does he seem comfortable,” said Dr. Candelaria.
If there’s one thing you can control, Dr. Candelaria says it’s what you do to keep yourself and others safe.
It’s something Peoples says she wishes, for her mother’s sake and for so many others who are at risk, the community would take seriously.
“Guys please, they’re stupid rules but they’re easy to follow. It’s not worth somebody’s life,” said Peoples.
A spokesperson from ‘Highland Health and Rehabilitation’ says they are following all infection control protocols.
Currently, they say the staff member is self isolating at home.
The resident, who tested positive, is in isolation at the facility and awaiting the results of another test to confirm the resident is, in fact, positive.
Highland Health says this is undoubtedly a challenging time for nursing homes across the nation and they are doing everything within their power to keep residents safe.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia.
She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.