Family of dying man talk about running in and out of assisted living center to say goodbye

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Nursing homes and assisted living centers are not allowing visitors unless relatives are dying. Then only one person can be in the room with their loved one at a time.

Hope Battaglia asked, “How do you choose which child gets to be there during their last breath?” She said goodbye to her 80-year-old father Sunday afternoon. Englebert Pierre Bareiter loved his family and loved history. Battaglia added, “Everybody wanted grandpa as a partner at Christmas time when we played Trivial Pursuit. They'd always say grandpa knows all the answers because he lived it haha.”

Bareiter’s family recently moved him into Sherbrooke Village to assist with his Alzheimer’s. They were told last week it appeared he was dying. Battaglia said, “We started off with the three of us in there. It was my sister, me and my brother and they came in and they said no. Only one person is allowed here at a time and so we would sit out in the waiting area and just take turns, but then yesterday they changed it to one person in the entire building at a time.” Yesterday they knew he was taking his final breaths.

Battaglia said, “The administrator came in the room right then and said, ‘I'm going to have to ask one of you to leave.’ and I said ‘No, my dad has just passed away. We are not leaving.’ He said ‘That's it, I'm calling the police’ and my sister said, ‘We'll have at it.’ So the police did show up and they did ask her to leave.”

A spokesperson for the parent company Ascension Living told me us by phone it's heartbreaking for their staff to follow guidelines that seem counter to their mission of caring for families. Molly Gaus wrote, first, our deepest condolences for the family that is grieving with the loss of a loved one during these unprecedented times. It was our honor to care for their loved one and our prayers are with the family. We understand the existing guidelines will represent a significant hardship for both residents and families. We express our sincere condolences to all of our residents and families who have experienced the loss of a loved one during this unprecedented time. We empathize with our residents and their families who need to comply with the new, strict visitation guidelines; however, we know that by following these guidelines we have in place will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to the most vulnerable population. We also understand that connecting with loved ones is incredibly important. Our team is working creatively in order to assist in connecting families in the safest way we can - especially during these hard times.

As with other senior living communities across the nation, we have in place recommended infection control precautions and visitor protocols to protect our residents, associates and their loved ones that are based on the most current recommendations and guidelines provided by the CDC, CMS and local health departments. In addition to providing ongoing updates to our residents and their loved ones, the visitation requirements are also shared on our website and updated as necessary.

Bareiter's family today went to the funeral home for their father's arrangements. They say he will not be tested to see if the coronavirus played a part in his death. Though his death was sudden, they say it appeared to be tied to his refusal to eat, because of his Alzheimer’s.

Englebert Pierre Bareiter was 80-years- old.

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