OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Lundy Kiger (R-Poteau) today called on Gov. Stitt to advocate the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issue guidelines to begin the soft reopening of the state’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities to allow visitors.
"Everyone is totally on board with being safe and taking precautions with our most vulnerable population who are living in assisted living or nursing home facilities," Kiger said. "But the current rules by the CDC and CMS offer no end in sight for these people who are trapped away from their families and the world. These people not being allowed visits by their families and not being able to see their loved ones presents a mental health concern that perhaps is even worse than the pandemic itself."
Kiger said many of these people are elderly and have been locked down alone and have been given no date by which they can expect to again see family members. This is affecting their physical and emotional spirits and doing great harm to their entire health. Family members are also a check in making sure that their loved ones are being properly taken care of daily, he said, and the only way for that to happen is through face-to-face visits.
"If we can provide guidance for businesses opening up again, surely we can find ways for family members to get the opportunity by June 1, 2020, to physically see and talk to their loved ones" Kiger said.
He pointed out that when people go into a convenience store there is a glass partition separating them from the cashier, and that seems to be working. He asked why it is proving so hard for guidance to be developed for safe visits to nursing homes or other health care facilities. He suggested a resident or patient could be rolled out to a location in a room large enough to allow for social distancing to visit with a family member or loved one who has passed an advanced screen-in check and who is wearing a mask and gloves.
"This would change the lives of thousands of people, and would help improve the lives of these people who are losing hope and dying not from the virus but because they are so broken down emotionally with nothing to look forward to," Kiger said.
Kiger asks Oklahoma to put themselves in the shoes of these people who have little to no hope and nothing to look forward to and understand what it does to their hearts and minds.
"Let’s also look at the health care workers trying to take care of these people and understand they are doing all they can to keep their spirits up," he said. "But nothing will make a difference like seeing a loved one and being able to have a simple conversation."
Kiger pleads with the governor to please consider talking to other governor’s in the nation and President Trump to push for the CDC and the CMS to develop guidelines for a soft opening of the state’s nursing home facilities.
"Let’s give these people and their families something to look forward to for the future," he said.