Nursing Home Visits Can Be ‘Business and Business,’ Fans and Families Say

Parents, grandparents, grandparents-to-be and even a few small children burst out of the wards at two New York City nursing homes — Wellington Sunset Nursing Home in Port Washington and Brookdale Care Center in Far Rockaway — after the doors were opened so families could be reunited with their loved ones. But the excitement about visitors was met with anxiety about care and safety from the staff.

Some nursing home staff members greeted family members outside the doors.

“We’re so happy to have visitors,” said Aftab Ghurka, the administrative director of H.J. Shorenstein, which runs three Long Island nursing homes. “We believe that parents, grandparents and extended family members are our most important asset as a staff. So, we are so grateful when a family is in need of us.”

Like many nursing homes, H.J. Shorenstein has a policy of allowing only family members and blood relatives to visit. But, in recent months, it had begun to let in more visitors. It eventually reached a high of 35 last week before lowering the limit to 16 on Monday, a move that critics said was temporary and reflective of staff being overwhelmed with the increased visitor flow.

“I just appreciate the fact that they are accommodating this family visit,” Ms. Ghurka said. “We do know that it’s challenging for all of us on the staff.”

Relatives, however, weren’t convinced that the quality of care was improving.

“They should not be doing this to people’s families,” said Daime Harmon, who visited her 92-year-old grandmother at Brookdale Care Center. “It’s like they are conducting business and business should be family.”

Ms. Harmon, who was most concerned about the safety of her grandmother, said the daughter was being driven to get her grandmother from the nursing home by her grandson.

“That’s wrong,” Ms. Harmon said. “If you’re going to treat your family members this way, then you should treat the inmates in the hospital.”

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