Letter: Nursing home visits needed

Due to federal and state government mandates, residents of nursing homes are not permitted to receive visitors. They are restricted, for the most part, to their rooms and are missing the love, conversation, connection and physical touch of their loved ones. They are also missing interacting with other residents in the manner they are accustomed to.

Loyal, compassionate, and hard-working nursing home staff work around the clock to care for our seniors. They are really trying, as they follow federal and state mandates, to make the best of a very difficult situation. They are playing hallway bingo, using FaceTime to connect seniors with their families, and reading letters from school children. If they are permitted by their management, they may open a window through which a resident that is not bed-bound or hard-of-hearing may see and talk to family.

Clergy are among the visitors considered “non-essential” by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Nursing home chaplains have also been told to stay away. Meanwhile, isolation takes its toll. Fear, discouragement, detachment, and depression, as well as the shortage of human interaction, cannot simply be measured by statistics. The human soul and spirit need ministering to — as well as the body. Healthy and properly protected clergy and chaplains need to be allowed to visit and minister to our communities’ nursing home residents.

Please contact your federal and state legislators and ask them to: ” Tell CMS that clergy are essential personnel and need to be allowed, provided they are healthy and properly protected, to provide on-site spiritual care to nursing home residents.”

Paul J. Burkholder, Pandora


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