TILTON — Jack Shea isn’t worried about dying from the COVID-19 virus.
But the 75-year-old Manchester native and resident of the New Hampshire Veterans Home fears he may succumb to boredom, the consequence, he says, of a resident lockdown that was imposed after a staffer at the facility tested positive for the virus.
Residents and family were notified on Sept. 9 by Commandant Margaret LaBrecque that as a result of an asymptomatic employee at the Veterans Home testing positive, “all social excursions and visits other than pre-approved compassionate care visits have been put on hold to maximize safety and precautions.”
Shea, who served in the U.S. Army for nearly two years and was an attorney, on Monday said he and his fellow residents were told that they are required to quarantine in place until Sept. 21, after which rooms would be disinfected, something that Shea thinks will further extend the quarantine.
Contrary to guidance on dealing with COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, administrators at the Veterans Home have not pursued any alternatives to the quarantine, he said.
In response to Shea’s complaints, Sarah Stanley, the public information officer at the Veterans Home, issued a statement Monday saying that the facility continues to follow all state and federal guidelines as to COVID-19.
“We understand the importance of social interaction and recreational activities and recognize the challenges health precautions present,” wrote Stanley. “Our staff continue to provide personalized, quality care while safety remains our primary focus during the pandemic.”
She said the quarantine will be lifted “after we receive negative test results from two rounds of weekly testing of all residents and staff, and the subsequent terminal cleaning has been completed.”
The Veterans Home should consider “some alternative other than locking us up in a jail cell for 14 days,” Shea said.
The in-room quarantine means only staff can enter and leave a resident’s room, said Shea. Residents can’t use the computer room, can’t go to church and even though Shea said he is a voracious reader, he can’t get together with his other residents to compare notes.
The quarantine has also prevented residents from meeting with their families, he said, although Stanley said the Veterans Home is facilitating video and “window” visits.
“I’ve never seen my grandkids. They’re a year-and-a half old,” said Shea, His son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids were supposed to visit him at the Veterans Home on Sept. 10.
Asked if he’ll make it through the COVID-19 situation at the Veterans Home, Shea replied “I will, if I don’t die of boredom.”