Human Touch is a Universal Need, and it’s up to Lamont to Change Visitation Policy


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I am responding to a direct quotation attributed to Dr. Deidre Gifford, Interim commissioner of the Department of Public Health.

This matter has to do with Mathematica’s final report, which found that nursing home residents have suffered a significant decrease in well being since the onset of COVID-19. Dr. Gifford acknowledges the reality of increased levels of depression amongst Connecticut’s nursing home residents, but is hesitant to point the finger at the state’s visitation policies. The recent ‘expanded’ policy is little better than any previous policy. 

Her incredulous position is to offer that such manifestations of increased depression could also be linked to changes in staffing or PPE. This is ludicrous. How can such components of the COVID-19 pandemic be mentioned on an equal footing with the overwhelming loss of connection to the residents’ loved ones? Who needs a medical degree or an exhaustive study to realize this lack of connection is the single most vital cause for this wave of depression as well as medical decline?

Whether a nursing home resident is cognitively impaired or fully functional makes no difference. All people share the universal need for the human touch, the warmth and love of those who have been their lifelong support system. In the gaping void of such a basic human need, lies the solution in reversing this catastrophic trend.

Yes, we must remain vigilant in protecting nursing home residents and staff from infection. But the means to protect and compassionately reintroduce family are now at hand. Dr. Gifford knows this to be true. Now it is up to her and Gov. Ned Lamont to act with the wisdom and heart that we all should demand.

Richard Stern
Stonington, CT