Kathy Zaba, Family Member

Kathy Zaba is a family member whose brother was a nursing home resident for nearly five years before passing away during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click the black squares below to hear and read about Kathy’s experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The expanded interview (edited for clarity) is available at the bottom of the page.

And he was in hospice for five weeks before he passed away, and I was only allowed to see him once five weeks before he died for 15 minutes and then I got to see him the day that he died. And I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know he was going to die that day so they only let me stay for close to a half hour, but they told me I only had two minutes and then I had to go.

He didn’t understand why all of a sudden I wasn’t coming. I don’t know why he.. I could tell he’d say, “Are you coming today?” when he was awake and I would say “Well I can drop something off” but, to go inside he didn’t understand why I wasn’t coming in.

He didn’t have COVID. On his death certificate it didn’t say COVID, but it may as well have. Because it was the isolation of not having people come and just not having any kind of exercise and being forced to stay in the bed all day.

Since they had to keep that 6 ft apart, they had an X where he had to stay, an X where I had to stay, and if he tried to come closer “no, no” …you know, very difficult.

One time they told my brother that they were doing Easter baskets, and so he was like all excited and I think he was excited because of the candy or a treat. So he comes into this dining room area and they start passing out pictures of an Easter bunny holding Easter baskets and then they started passing out crayons. And so my brother was like “Oh, sorry Charlie” and he just backed up and left. But coloring for a 60-year-old man, an Easter basket, especially when you tell him “we’re doing Easter baskets now” and my brother was like “Okay!” because food was everything to him…and to color something like that is not stimulating I don’t think.

Click below for the expanded interview (11:33).