CORONAVIRUS UTAH

Family Struggles To Maintain Bond With Father Isolated In Long-Term Care With COVID-19

Jun 26, 2020, 8:00 PM | Updated: 8:07 pm

SANDY, Utah – A West Jordan family is trying to maintain a bond with their father, who is isolated in a long-term care facility and was diagnosed with COVID-19 three days ago.

Thousands of Utah families have struggled with the vast and varied impacts of COVID-19. In many situations, loved ones have been isolated from their families for months because of the virus.

Long-term care facilities across the country have had a tough time keeping the coronavirus away. To do that, they’ve had to keep families out, away from their loved ones when they need them the most.

That can be agonizing.

“We haven’t seen him face-to-face since March,” said Jamie Gordon.

She and her three children have not seen her 45-year-old husband, Jaren Gordon, since COVID-19 hit Utah.

“His frontal lobe is pretty much gone. So, he acts like a child,” Jamie Gordon said.

Thirteen years ago, Jaren Gordon was diagnosed with a rare brain illness called Metachromatic Leukodystrophy, which causes dementia and makes him behave like a toddler. He also has type one diabetes.

When she could no longer care for her husband, Jamie Gordon moved him into Sandy Health and Rehab a year ago.

“I didn’t know what I was going to come home to after work, and I just couldn’t do it anymore,” she said.

Then, when Jaren was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Tuesday, Jamie’s fears intensified.

“That he would get it (COVID-19) and die fast,” she said.

So far, the only symptom he was showing is a moderately high fever. He cannot even understand that he has COVID-19.

The nursing home successfully kept the virus out until the end of May, and the family feels good about the care he’s getting.

But as of Friday, 40 residents and 20 employees at the facility had tested positive for COVID-19. Three of the COVID-19 positive residents have been hospitalized. The rest have been quarantined in the same wing at the facility.

Except for a couple of visits at the window and a video chat Tuesday, the family has had no contact with Jaren Gordon for more than three months.

“It’s hard,” Jaime Gordon said. “It’s really hard because I was his caregiver for how long? Even when he was there (at the nursing home), I was still caregiving.”

Nineteen-year-old Ashlyn Gordon said it’s taken a toll on her to go without seeing her father for so long.

The couple’s 21-year-old daughter, RaKelle Gordon, hasn’t had a good face-to-face conversation with her dad since November.

“I think the window is harder for him because he doesn’t really understand why we’re outside, and he’s inside,” she said.

Their father has even mistakenly quipped that they don’t love him anymore, but that was just some of the confusion brought on by his illness.

“When I was a kid, I was a daddy’s girl,” Gordon said. “I knew him before he was like this. So, it’s hard, not being able to see him at all.”

Their father has been acting like a child since 16-year old Braxton Gordon was a child. He misses his father in a different way.

“I went from babysitting him for hours a day and seeing him every day to seeing him four times a week, and now I don’t get to talk to him at all,” he said.

He now understands just how serious the virus is.

“People joke about it until they have to deal with it, and it’s not funny anymore,” he said.

Yet, it is often the laughter they get from Jaren’s child-like behavior that keeps them going.

“If we didn’t laugh, we would probably be crying all day,” Jamie Gordon said.

The family appreciates the regular updates they get from the nursing home. but with visitation restrictions in place for such a long time, it’s a real challenge for the family.

Sandy Health and Rehab Statement

The following is a statement issued by Sandy Health and Rehab regarding COVID-19 in the facility.

We do wish to express our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the two residents who died. Our staff was quite attached to those residents and it was difficult for them also. 

Here are a few thoughts regarding the spread of COVID-19 at Sandy Health and Rehab:

  1. Please note that we have been fully transparent from the very beginning and have been posting regular updates to keep the public informed regarding the status of COVID-19 in our facility. While there is currently a Federal mandate to be transparent, we began that process long before it was mandated.
  2. Sandy Health and Rehab has been in constant contact with the Utah Department of Health and the Utah Bureau of Epidemiology regarding how to contain the virus within our facility. The Utah Department of Health sent the Utah National Guard Mobile Unit (whose task is testing and infection control) to inspect our secure wing and they approved of our management of the wing. They (National Guard) have provided most of the testing at the facility. 
  3. All residents and staff have been tested multiple times if their first test came back negative.
  4. Much is still unknown about the virus, e.g., how easily it spreads through the air, how infectious asymptomatic COVID-19 POSITIVE people are, etc. I believe that when we know more about the virus, it will become apparent why it spreads so easily—even when all precautions are taken.
  5. If a person is COVID-19 POSITIVE and asymptomatic, but has not been tested—there is no way to know if they have the disease and the virus can be spread very easily. 
  6. About 50% of residents in nursing homes have some level of dementia. Combine that with the fact that it’s unlawful to restrain them in any way—and you have a combination that makes it easier for the virus to spread. Residents can essentially do what they want—when they want—which includes the freedom to follow instructions or not follow them, e.g., handwashing, maintaining distance from other residents, etc. Nursing home workers can only use persuasion skills to ask residents to follow guidelines.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus Utah

FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer

US clears updated COVID boosters for kids as young as 5

The U.S. on Wednesday authorized updated COVID-19 boosters for children as young as 5, seeking to expand protection ahead of an expected winter wave.
2 months ago
...
Alex Cabrero and Mike Anderson, KSL TV

Sandy woman shares frustration of ongoing battle with COVID-19

As life starts to return to normal from the pandemic, for millions of Americans, it still causes a daily struggle. That's the case for one Sandy woman, who shared her story Tuesday.
2 months ago
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 09: A pharmacist prepares to administer  COVID-19 vaccine booster sho...
Jed Boal

University Health recommends getting omicron booster and flu shot now

The CDC approved the COVID-19 bivalent boosters that target the most recent omicron variants on September 1. Since then, tens of thousands of Utahns have rolled up their sleeves.
2 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
Jed Boal

Despite reaching 5,000 deaths, Utah’s COVID-19 numbers are down

The director of the World Health Organization said yesterday about COVID-19, “the end is in sight,” even if we are not there yet.
3 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
LAURA UNGAR AP Science Writer

Is COVID-19 winding down? Scientists say no

New booster shots have arrived and social distancing guidelines have eased but COVID-19 infections aren't going away anytime soon. Experts predict the scourge that's already lasted longer than the 1918 flu pandemic will linger far into the future as the virus continues to cause deaths and may well mutate or evolve into a new disease.
3 months ago
FILE: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 (left) and Moderna COVID-19 (right) vaccines are seen at a vaccinati...
LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer

US clears updated COVID boosters targeting newest variants

U.S. clears updated COVID-19 boosters targeting the newest omicron strain; shots could begin within days.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Family Struggles To Maintain Bond With Father Isolated In Long-Term Care With COVID-19