Family misses seeing mom, 95, in facility

Hurdles in visitation

Melinda Bell, Hannah Abbatoy, Julie Bell and Liz Kennedy spend a Christmas with their grandmother and mother, Mary Sorci. Submitted Photo

Melinda Bell of Fredonia has seen her 95-year-old mother Mary Sorci twice since COVID began and she’s had enough.

Sorci, who lives at the Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Dunkirk for the last few years, suffers from dementia, but loves her home and the people in it. However, she does miss her family.

“Since the pandemic she’s had COVID, she’s had the shots and she’s fine,” Bell told the OBSERVER. “She’s well taken care of there, however the visitation is ridiculous. We’ve seen her twice in person, 6 feet away in the day room. We see her on Facetime which they do once a week. We have gone to her window and tried to peek in, but they frown on that which is really upsetting, to my brother especially. They really do not like it.”

Bell shared that her family has been vaccinated and now they feel that they have the right to see their mother and grandmother.

“Our whole family has had the shots and every time we go to have an appointment to visit her, we get rapid testing and we go in once and then three days later they say an employee now has COVID, so now we don’t see her for another two weeks,” Bell said. “When that two weeks comes, right when we’re going to go see her, somebody else has tested positive so now we don’t see her for another two weeks. I am just so frustrated at the policy. They don’t have to be vaccinated because that’s their right, but every time they go home to their families somebody is bringing something back, so where is the end of this? We just want to know as families when it is going to be either all the employees get vaccinated or we get to take our loved ones out.”

Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter and her birthday have all gone by and Bell and her family just want to spend time with her again.

“To me this isn’t prison, this is her home. She loves it there, but she cries of loneliness for her family every Facetime, “ Bell added. “I don’t know if she’s getting out because she can’t tell me, they say ‘Don’t listen to her, she has dementia, she’s getting out.’ I don’t understand why we can’t go in there or have them wheel her to the door, we’ll take her for a ride or a visit and wheel her back in.”

Dawn Harsch, a representative for VestraCare that owns the facility stated that “Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (CNRC) has been open for visitation since February 22, 2021. Under the governor’s most recent guidelines, one unit at the facility was under yellow zone precautions and had been closed to visitors for two weeks; however, visitations had taken place prior to that. As of April 8, the unit is once again open for visitation.

“Our team understands the countless benefits that outdoor activities bring to our residents’ lives. To that end, our residents have gone outdoors several times during March and April (as weather permitted) and are also taking part in a gardening group. The mental and physical health of our residents is of the utmost importance, and our team works tirelessly to create therapeutic and meaningful activities that add to their quality of life.”


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