JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville woman urges securing every caregiver’s right to see their loved one – pandemic or not.
Mary Daniel is taking her fight to the Florida Legislature entering its fourth week of the legislature. At the same time, Daniel is also fighting for change at the federal level.
Daniel and her husband Steve have an incredible love story, partly due to tragedy. Her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was just 59 years old.
Now he’s 68 and is in a long-term care facility, which locked Daniel and others out as the 2020 pandemic swept the world.
“I would visit him every night and get him ready for bed and he would go to sleep and it would be a great way for both of us to end our day and that’s what we did on March 11th,” Daniel said. “And on March 12, they told us I can’t come back.”
This set off a memorable fight from Daniel. She took a job washing dishes at the facility so she could see her husband, then caught the governor’s attention and then kept demanding change.
“Essential Nurses” bills are moving in the Florida House and Senate, led by House Representatives Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville.
Daniel’s campaign includes a book for each lawmaker.
“And part of that is telling our story, telling people what that journey has been like and how it’s felt for so many people who not only got separated and finally came back, but for so many too People who have lost someone and had to literally watch them die through a window,” Daniel said.
Daniel calls this “complicated grief” and has produced books that tell the real life or real death stories of people in long term care.
“And we call it ‘saving them to death’ because we certainly understand why the lockdowns were implemented with the best of intentions,” Daniel said. “We understand that COVID kills, but we also understand that isolation kills too. And so we tried to save them and many of them died of loneliness.
Daniel and others gave a book to every legislator in Tallahassee last week, 160 of them.
Daniel says federal legislation is more advanced, but will only affect Medicare and Medicaid-covered facilities. The state bills would affect private facilities like her husband’s.
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