ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Nursing homes are getting hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic since the elderly population, who often have underlying health conditions, are especially vulnerable to catching the virus. One New Mexican family is sharing their heartbreaking story after two loved ones contracted the virus while in an Albuquerque nursing home.
Jessica and Fidel Ayon recently moved to Texas. The plan was to soon move Fidel’s parents, who are in the Genesis Uptown Rehabilitation Center, to Texas to be them. But, before that could happen, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Fidel’s parents, Joe and Sharon, are both in their seventies with underlying health conditions, staying at the nursing home. Last Sunday, Joe tested positive for COVID-19. He passed away less than a week later. His wife, Sharon, also tested positive and has since been put on oxygen.
“It was heartbreaking to find both parents had it. But then you know, I’m glad they both did get diagnosed together so they were together and he wasn’t by himself,” Fidel said. “It’s just heartbreaking to look at the man you knew, you adored your whole life, at their weakest.”
The entire family is grieving the loss of Joe. The family drove from Texas to help comfort Sharon the only way they could in today’s new normal: by driving by her window at the nursing home. “Not being able to be there with his mom to hug and hold her,” Jessica said.
“I had to see her through a window just to get some comfort from her and make sure she was loved,” Fidel continued. “No hugs, no kiss, I can’t just, no comfort really, you know?”
As of May 4, Genesis Uptown said it’s had 46 residents and 36 staff test positive for COVID-19. It’s had an additional eight residents pass away from the virus.
The Ayon’s said they were grateful for the response and communication from the facility over the course of the past few weeks. The Ayon’s said the facility provided Zoom teleconferencing daily so families could get updates on how the facility was handling the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of negativity towards this facility, we don’t feel that,” Jessica said. “They took all the measures, from what we see, in their hands. They made the staff wear PPE, they made their residents wear masks, and they tried their hardest to keep it from spreading…we see, in the community, how fast it spreads.”
The Ayon’s are sharing their story in hopes it inspires others to do their part in slowing the spread.
“I want people to take it serious, you know what I mean, take this virus seriously,” Fidel said. “My mom and dad both got it and they both have different health conditions, but you know, take it serious, it doesn’t discriminate because you’re old or young.”
The pandemic is having a financial impact on the Ayon’s. They’ve started a GoFundMe to help cover funeral costs for Joe. State officials are working on how to respond to outbreaks of the virus in nursing homes.