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Forced COVID Separation Continues, But Eases A Little In Health Care Facilities

Tom Bergkoetter of St. Libory used to spend two or three hours a day with his wife Dolores at the Freeburg Care Center.

They sat by each other in her room, ate together, took drives, and went out to eat.

Even as her health and memory declined due to Parkinson’s, Tom maintained the daily visits.

Now, due to COVID, Bergkoetter has not been able to visit or give his wife a real hug for over seven months.

The closest contact that Tom has had with his wife is wearing shoulder-length gloves to hold her hands through slits in the plastic of the Hugs Booth at the Care Center. He can’t give her a real hug because she can’t stand up.

Sometimes she doesn’t even respond or open her eyes, he said.

In the early months of the Pandemic restriction, Bergkoetter visited his wife through the window, talking to her on the phone. But as Dolores’s memory deteriorated, the visits were too confusing for her, he said.

The 7 month separation from his wife and Pandemic that is not abating wears on Bergkoetter. “I don’t know what is worse, getting COVID or the loneliness from the separation,” he said.

Read the full story and updates on local facility restrictions in this week’s issue. 

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