Local Couple Reunite for First Time Since Start of COVID-19

Source: Dignity Health

After seven months, Marian Regional Medical Center’s Extended Care Center (MECC) relaxed visitation policies for residents, allowing one visitor per week by appointment in a designated area. Many of the patients in the center have not seen loved ones since the inception of COVID-19 in March, and as such, husband and wife James and Phyllis Sabo were overjoyed to have the opportunity to reunite after months apart. 

James, a former volunteer at Marian Regional Medical Center who suffered a stroke during a shift, was admitted to MECC for long-term care in 2018. He was used to having frequent visits from his beloved wife of 60 years, Phyllis, a volunteer at Mission Hope Cancer Center. On Friday, March 13 of this year, Phyllis visited James before her shift and had planned to come back afterwards to eat with him. When she returned that afternoon, for the safety of both patients and staff, the center had been closed to visitors due to COVID-19.

The following week, Phyllis was also released from her volunteer position to limit the number of people at the hospital. Phyllis was saddened, as their visits had become routine.

“While we were apart, he called me every morning to tell me about the previous evening, and then again at night to tell me about his day, and a few more times in between,” said Phyllis. The nurses facilitated facetime for the couple, which Phyllis enjoyed, despite her distaste for the newly grown beard he had developed during his period of separation.

After seven months of not seeing her husband, Phyllis received word that she could visit him once again. At their first encounter, not knowing what to expect, Phyllis got her temperature checked, donned a mask and gloves, and was able to reconnect and hold his hands for the first time in months.

“Our visit was short, says Phyllis, but I was so happy to see him was glad he was doing so well.” It will again become ritual as Phyllis has a standing appointment to visit James each week.

“Every night in my prayers, I pray for all of the caregivers at Marian Extended Care Center,” says Phyllis. “They are so kind and so good to James; they put me at peace knowing he is in great hands.”

Marian Extended Care Center’s is nationally recognized as Best Nursing Homes for Short Stay Rehabilitation and Long-Term Care by U.S. News and World Report. The 95-skilled bed nursing facility provides sub-acute health care for individuals in need or short-term, intermediate, or long-term care. The facility is conveniently located across from Marian Regional, and provides patients and residents with immediate access to the finest routine and emergency medical care on the Central Coast.


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