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Dying man moved from nursing home so his family can visit him

A dying Niagara County man was moved Wednesday from a nursing home that wouldn't let his immediate family visit him because of COVID-19 precautions.

Elvin "Bill" Hanley was transported to the Niagara Hospice from Northgate Health Care Facility, a nursing home in Wheatfield where he had been in a hospice bed for six days.

The nursing home would not let his family visit him, ever since Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned most visits in nursing homes on Thursday to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Hanley, 76, had ended his kidney dialysis treatment earlier the same day because of mounting health problems, which included kidney disease, diabetes, blockage in his right carotid artery, a stroke and amputation of a toe.

Since then, Miriam Hanley said her only contact with her husband of 33 years has been through brief phone calls.

She said she expected him to die any day from kidney failure.

Miriam Hanley, right, and her daughter Karoline Hanley, stand outside Northgate Health Care Facility on Tuesday. Miriam's husband, Elvin "Bill" Hanley was in a hospice bed in the nursing home. Although Miriam expects her husband to die any day, the nursing home would not let his immediate family visit him because of a statewide COVID-19 precaution limiting visits at nursing homes. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

The State Health Department said despite the governor's ban on visits to nursing homes, the facilities are permitted to allow visitors "for end-of-life circumstances.”

Dawn Harsch, communications director for the McGuire Group, which operates Northgate, commented, "... it is helpful to understand that not all hospice patients are terminally ill and not all terminally ill patients are in hospice. Should there be a point in time when the facility medical staff believes that Mr. Hanley is terminally ill, the family is most certainly more than welcome to visit."

On Wednesday, after The Buffalo News published a story about the Hanleys' plight, Niagara Hospice contacted Miriam Hanley and volunteered to shelter her husband and allow her and her daughter to visit him, as long as they wear respirator masks.

Miriam Hanley thanked the hospice officials for their compassion.

"I understand the nursing home taking precautions. But he's in his last days," she said.

She said she and her daughter would be going to visit her husband at the hospice Wednesday afternoon.

 

Nursing home turns away dying man's family over COVID-19 precautions

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