The Honorable Mike DeWine
Governor of the State of Ohio
Riffe Center 30 th Floor
77 S High St
Columbus, OH 43215-6117

Dear Governor DeWine,                                                                                 June 5, 2020

I am writing you today concerning the COVID-19 shutdown policy for nursing homes and health care facilities. We are now entering the fourth month of a lockdown on nursing homes across the State of Ohio. Husbands, wives, children, and loved ones have not been able to go in and visit their family members in Ohio’s nursing homes. Our elderly who deserve visits, care and the expression of respect from those who love them have been denied this since the order went into effect.

There are numerous heartbreaking stories of family members who were not able to be with their loved ones during their final days and hours on earth. This is cruel, and an unusual act of government policy. The untold sadness, sense of loss and remorse of those who were not able to pray with, care for, and simply just express their love to the ones they cherish before they left this life is something that I never thought we would see state government impose. The original intent of safeguarding our nursing home residents from the coronavirus may have been set forth with good intentions, and many Ohioans, including myself, thought this might be for a few weeks, but the duration of now going into 4 months with no plan for at least one family member going in to meet with their loved one is unacceptable.

We are receiving numerous reports that these residents in the nursing homes are becoming despondent, confused, and not eating. Their family advocates are not able to properly fulfill their roles in helping to oversee the health care needs of their loved ones in Ohio nursing homes; the order forbids them from entering the facilities to observe what health care workers may or may not be doing to care for their loved ones.

My own mother has dementia, and I have not been able to see her since February in-person. She does not understand why we cannot come in to see her, and I can tell that she feels as if we do not care; every time we see her through the window it breaks our hearts. I never thought I would live to see the day that a government would keep me from fulfilling one of the commands of God to “honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the earth.” Exodus 20:12

My mother lived through the Great Depression in hard poverty, then WWII, then raised her family and served others. She and so many like her deserve better. Governor, I urge you in the strongest terms – allow family members to meet with their loved ones in Ohio’s nursing homes.

The goodwill and patience of Ohioans who have been waiting to hear from your office about a plan that would allow for visitation while safeguarding the residents has expired. We long thought that by now an announcement would have been forthcoming, but the reality is, these seniors are wasting away in loneliness and a sense of imprisonment. They committed no crime, yet they are serving a punishment from a draconian order of government that is keeping them from family and friends.

Even the incarcerated in Ohio’s prisons for the worst types of crimes are entitled to visitors, but our elderly, some of the greatest generation, are being forced into seclusion without their consent. We urge you in the strongest terms, appealing to your good will and judgement, that the time has come to set forth a plan to allow for family and loved ones to visit their beloved family members in Ohio’s nursing homes.

Chris Long
President of Ohio Christian Alliance