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Brazos seniors reflect back on a year of COVID-19 visitation restrictions

Posted at 6:48 PM, Mar 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-19 19:48:19-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Carol Mullins of College Station retired from her job as an occupational therapist early in July, just so she could pull her 102-year-old mother out of assisted living in Bryan.

Mullins felt that her mother’s well-being had deteriorated as she was not allowed any visitors at the facility. One week after Mullins brought her home, Laverne Robinson died.

"Even though she did not die of COVID-19, I still think it was a contributing factor, because of the isolation," Mullins said.

Texas State Senator Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham. wants to make sure this never happens again.

On Wednesday, a bill and an amendment she drafted - SB 25 and SJR 19 - unanimously passed in the Senate. Together, they would ensure that no one could ever again deny a nursing home resident visits from at least one designated caregiver. The bill does not include independent living communities.

David Ruesink lives with his wife, Lou Ellen, at the Langford of College Station’s independent living community, which he said, also barred visitation during the first half of the pandemic.

"I’m a big hugger, so I certainly missed that," Ruesink commented.

The Ruesinks were able to survive the isolation because they have each other, and they were able to easily navigate Zoom calls. They missed physically being present with their loved ones and church community, but David said, he understood the need for all of these precautions.

"I think most of us griped about most of the restrictions we had here," David said. "...but even though we kept saying, ‘oh, this is awful,’ the fact that most of us are still very healthy indicates that management was very careful about what we could and could not do.”

Kolkhorst's bill and amendment now go onto the House of Representatives.