A mandate issued by Gov. Greg Abbott has kept a West Texas woman from being with her husband for over 136 days. Both are elderly with life-threatening issues, and she hopes to be with him again while they’re still alive. If a recent statewide decision doesn’t allow them the opportunity, then Texans must help press her cause.
“Isolation is a killer as much as any virus,” wrote Carol Waggoner of Abilene in a July 22 letter to Gov. Abbott and other Texas officials. Since March 9 of this year, Carol has been banned from being with her husband of 56 years, John Waggoner, as part of Abbott’s response to the Chinese coronavirus.
John, who is 80 years old, spent over 25 years serving in the U.S. Air Force. He has dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, hearing loss, and arthritis in his knees.
“With the dementia, I cared for him for 18 years at home with some help from caregivers,” Carol wrote. This February, John fell on his head twice in 24 hours and was immobilized. He was taken to the hospital and later sent to the Lamun Lusk Sanchez Texas State Veterans Home, located in Big Spring, where he is to this day.
“The care is excellent,” she says.
Yet however great the care is, the one thing the veterans home can’t provide is Carol’s love for John.
“The COVID lockdown began on Mar. 9, 2020, and we have been unable to see each other in person since that date,” she writes, adding that since May she’s only been allowed to see her husband through a window—not actually be with him. “That is 136 days of a disastrous situation for a memory care patient!”
She is frustrated about being banned from being with her husband, adding that methods exist for her to safely be with him, and 26 states allow in-person visits.
“What is the issue with Texas?” she asks. “Yes, I know the virus rates are high in some areas, but not all.”
“This facility is COVID-free, and both patients and staff are tested regularly,” she writes. “As an elderly adult with a life-threatening health issue myself, I have been far more quarantined than any staff member at this facility.”
“My husband and I both are depressed, isolated, and declining,” Carol pleads. “Will we ever get to see each other for a hug, to hold a hand, or give a kiss again before one of us dies?”
Carol and John aren’t the only ones hurting from Abbott’s ban. Rebecca Taylor has had to fight both the hospital and Abbott’s hospital mandates in order to care for her beloved comatose husband. Stephanie Kirby has also been banned from being with her special-needs son—a ban that ultimately did not stop her son from getting the coronavirus.
Fifty-two members of the Texas Legislature recently signed a letter asking the head of Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission to “immediately move forward and put a plan into action to allow limited family visitations inside their facilities.” On July 30, Abbott’s ban was extended, not eliminated.
Last Thursday, HHSC announced they would permit “limited visitation at Nursing and Long-Term Care Facilities.” However, the lengthy list of conditions that must be met by the nursing home make it difficult to alleviate the pain of families like Stephanie’s, Rebecca’s, and the Waggoners.
“Please have some compassion for the patients and families who are dealing with this heartbreak, and allow us to visit our loved ones in person,” Carol pleads.
If you or anyone you know has had a similar experience from government mandates in response to the coronavirus, we’d like to hear from you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.