Spending Thanksgiving at a long-term care facility

Local News

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — You may be staying home for Thanksgiving or getting together in smaller groups. But others are stuck spending most of the day in isolation. We talked to a woman whose son is in a nursing home about how restrictions affected her visit with him.

“We are imprisoning residents of long-term care in every state in the United States. We’ve taken away their choice, We’ve taken away their dignity,” said Carrie Leljedal. Carrie Leljedal only had one hour to be with her son.

“It’s crazy that we can’t say okay he’s coming home, and we just wheel him down on his wheelchair and bring him there,” said Leljedal. He’s staying in a nursing home right now and can only be visited by either her or her husband alone, but not both at once.

“It’s too stressful at this moment, to tell you the truth. It’s just so stressful. I can’t even… see my family,” explained Leljedal’s son Lynn Ray.

“How they can deem me taking him home and nobody else being in my house… more risky than him going over to a doctor over in St. Louis, I don’t understand,” said Leljedal. She feels there are mixed messages coming from state leaders.

“They straight-up told people, no, don’t let your residents leave. But if they’re gone less than 24 hours, use your judgment. There’s no clear-cut answer anywhere in the state of Illinois right now,” she explained. But she’s optimistic things will look different soon.

“I’m hoping, if we have the vaccine before Christmas, that I’m hoping they let him come home. At least… even if it’s just for the day,” she said. “I fought to keep my son alive to have a life… not to be locked up.”

Leljedal and her husband are deemed Compassionate Caregivers for their son so they can have those limited visits with him, but she’s advocating for them to get Essential Caregiver status. That would give them some more freedom for visits. Leljedal mentioned the hope for a vaccine for residents before Christmas. When the vaccine does become available, it will likely go to frontline workers first, but after that, it could go to residents like Leljedal’s son.

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