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Tragedy among our elderly 

COVID-19 cases spike again
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 8:05 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Caught in the middle of a virus. Care home facilities trying to do the right thing, but people still dying. The West Central District Health Department (WCDHD) and the CDC, both continuing to provide guidelines. But families continue to lose loved ones without being able to say goodbye.

It’s a difficult task to navigate for both health care workers and families. Two people shared their story with News 2 on Monday. Shayne Sprague begged staff members of the Centennial Park Retirement Village to said goodbye to his father on his death bed several times. Finally, the staff agreed and Sprague was given the chance to visit his dad one last time.

Certain guidelines were placed for him to say goodbye in person...

  1. He had to come alone
  2. Protective clothing (masks, plus face shield, gown, and gloves)
  3. A waiver had to be signed just in case he contracted COVID-19

Sprague’s father died shortly after the visit. His mom is also a resident at Centennial, but she was not allowed to say goodbye to her husband. Sprague is grateful he said goodbye to his father before he died. But now said he is worried about his mother who is struggling with depression.

He said the risk of contracting COVID-19 is less damaging than being refused a chance to say goodbye forever. And his mom is a perfect example.

Many families are struggling with similar situations. Lacey Lovelace’s uncle was Sprague’s father’s roommate when he died. Lovelace reached out to News 2 about the connection.

Lovelace’s uncle tested positive for COVID-19 in late September. He went to Great Plains Health until Oct. 7. Upon returning, Lovelace said her uncle was placed in a room with a man known to be positive for COVID-19. The man who was his roommate was Sprague’s father. He died on Saturday, Oct. 10 with Lovelace’s uncle in the room.

Lovelace said she expects her uncle to return to Centennial later this week after a trip to an Omaha hospital the day after Sprague’s father died. But is nervous for him to return.

Lovelace said, “His doctor said he had COVID-19, again.”

Her uncle went to Omaha due to the lack of COVID-19 beds available in North Platte. News 2 spoke with Great Plains Hospital (GPH) today to find out if this is still the case.

Overall, a sharp spike in positive cases is being seen in the health district, reported by WCDHD daily. Sprague provided an October 15th letter sent to him from Centennial which stated...

  • There are 42 positive cases among residents
  • 25 positive cases among staff members
  • A total of 12 deaths
This letter was updated October 15th, 2020.
This letter was updated October 15th, 2020.(Shayne Sprague)

Both Lovelace and Sprague express how the elderly are dying from more than just COVID-19. Their mental health is declining due to the lack of socialization and not being able to see their families. This is why they both think it is important to still be able to communicate and see family members who reside in retirement homes. With in-person visits not allowed at the moment, they both agree that video calls should be set up (with the help of staff members) that way residents can still “see” their loved ones.

News 2 reached out to both The West Central District Health Department and Centennial Park Retirement Village with no response. Both Sprague and Lovelace just hope to hear what centennial and other care facilities plan to do for people’s loved ones moving forward.

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