Updated: May 11
Long term care facilities -- specifically nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living residences -- take care of some of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to COVID-19. Many in these facilities are frail with most having chronic medical conditions. Now, couple this with the closeness of how the residents live and the daily battle to keep infection control procedures in place since many residents are unable to practice these processes on their own given their limitations, and it becomes apparent just how susceptible both residents and staff are to a prolific infection like COVID-19.
The staff of Connelly Law Offices would like to thank all those who have been there to help our seniors. From left to right, Attorney RJ Connelly III, Legal Assistant and Medicaid Specialist Ariana Botelho, Legal Assistant Gabriela Lopez, Fiduciary Services Manager Alycia Drake, Paralegal Beth Watson, Legal Secretary Michelle Pelletier, and Fiduciary Services Specialist Elaine Lux. The photo was taken outside Connelly Law's main office in Pawtucket.
To date, at least 27,700 residents and staff have died from the coronavirus in long term care facilities around the country, according to the latest New York Times database. And when it comes to total infections, that number hovers somewhere around 150,000 and growing.
“The work that these facilities are doing with our seniors is remarkable,” stated elder law attorney RJ Connelly III. According to Connelly, it’s not just the medical and infection control part of things that he is referring to.
“Ever since the state governments have limited visitation, many of these residents and their families have been forced to face the end of life without those they love most being by their side, it’s tragic,” continued Connelly. “This has forced nursing home staff to step into a role that is beyond heartbreaking, but they keep a brave face and do it.”
That role Connelly is referring to is being at the bedside at a resident’s final moments of life.
“This virus has devastated the senior population in nursing facilities in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts,” Connelly said. “This means staff are sitting by the bedside of someone who is dying, holding their hands, stroking their cheek, telling them they are not alone as their life ends. It’s terrible.”
“I’ve held people’s hands as their loved ones are at the windows, crying and saying their goodbyes as I’m repeating to them what the families are saying to them over a cell phone,” said one staff member at a local nursing home, tearfully recalling her experiences. “It’s a heartbreaking situation, every emotion I have is rolling through my body as I’m doing this. The first time it happened, I didn’t know if I could do it. But then, I asked myself what I would want if that were my mother or father lying there, which made it easier to do. That’s when you find out how much strength you really have as a person.”
At Connelly Law Offices, the office staff have been getting the calls as well from nursing facilities about the deaths and illnesses of our clients.
“When I answer the phone and the voice on the other end says they are calling from a long term care facility, I brace myself for what’s coming next,” said a staff member. “Over the past few of weeks, it's usually about a positive coronavirus test or the passing of a resident. It’s been very sad.”
Another staff member commented on how these losses affect the entire staff in the law office. “We may have only seen them a few times or spoken with them monthly on the phone to check in on them, but we do manage their money or help pay their bills. By doing this, we get to learn what food they like, the kind of clothes they wear, what their interests are and what they care most about. For many, they call us to discuss family issues or ask for advice on purchasing something, it feels like losing a member of the family."
“We discussed this in a meeting,” Connelly said. “Our staff said they couldn’t begin to understand what long-term care staff must be going through during this pandemic. They all wanted to do something for them.”
“We are in the elder law field, so we decided to offer the nursing home staff something meaningful given the situation they are in, so we decided on a gift of legal documents,” stated a staff member.
Given that, the entire Connelly Law team would like to thank all of the Senior Care Heroes who are giving it their all right now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their dedication, commitment to serve, and tireless devotion to caring for our seniors in nursing homes, assisted living residences and senior rehabilitation facilities is appreciated and valued by all.
To thank them for everything that they are doing to keep their residents and our community safe and well during the coronavirus outbreak, we would like to offer them free legal documents to communicate their preferences in the event of a personal health catastrophe. The offer begins on Monday, May 11, 2020.
“We are honored to assist the staff of these facilities by drafting a Living Will and Designation of Health Care Surrogate/Proxy documents free of charge during this worldwide health crisis,” Connelly stated. “These two essential advance directives help individuals legally express their preferences regarding their medical wishes and end-of-life care.”
A Living Will details a person’s desires regarding medical treatment if you are unable to express informed consent. A Designation of Health Care Surrogate/Proxy is a document that authorizes a person of your choice to make medical decisions if a person is unable to make them on their own. These documents help to provide clarity on whom an individual wants to make healthcare decisions on their behalf and what those decisions should be.
Those who wish to participate in this offer can go to the page on our website by clicking this link.
Attorney Connelly says that the process is easy and the step by step instructions are contained on the page. “The form is a fill in the blank document, asking for the information that we need. It is secure and subject to all the protections of the attorney-client relationship.”
Who is Eligible?
All staff members (Administrators, Doctors, Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, CNAs, Direct Care Staff, Support Personnel, Office Personnel, etc.) who work for Rhode Island nursing homes, assisted living residences, and rehabilitation programs that serve our seniors or those with special needs. We may ask for proof and location of employment to avoid others from misrepresenting themselves as senior healthcare providers.
Executing Documents at Connelly Law
If you wish us to execute them for you, which consists of witnessing/notarizing them and printing them on fine letterhead paper, we have several choices for you. The entire process will take less than 5 minutes unless you have questions.
DRIVE THRU SERVICE - Make an appointment with us (email us for available times or call us at 401-724-9400). You can pull up in front of our Pawtucket office under our portico. We will send two staff out to notarize and witness the signing. Staff will observe all CDC safety guidelines.
MEET WITH US- Make an appointment with us (email us for available times or call us at 401-724-9400). We can meet inside our office, where we observe all CDC safety and cleanliness guidelines.
QUESTIONS- If you have questions about additional services like developing an estate planning portfolio, trust packages, Medicaid applications, etc., email us for available times or call us at 401-724-9400 and we will set an office appointment or virtual phone conference with you to have a discussion.
How Long The Offer Lasts
The offer begins on Monday, May 11, 2020, and runs until May 31, 2020. The execution process will run through June 30, 2020.