NEW ORLEANS — The closest Lisa Philips can get to her mother Thelma is the lobby of the Chateau de Notre Dame, where she brings her 89-year-old mom fresh clothes.
For the past two weeks, Philips has been forced to hand off the bagged clothes to workers at the front desk because of the coronavirus lockdown. Even with the limited access, Philips must have her temperature taken at the door before she can step through the threshold.
“It's very tough, very tough. I know she's lonely, probably in bed watching TV,” she said.
The lockdown two weeks ago was stressful enough. Now Philips is worried about that three positive cases identified in the complex may spread. Those worries are exacerbated by the tragedy at the Lambeth House retirement complex, where 11 residents died of the virus.
With the three positive cases, the state department of health has identified Chateau de Notre Dame has been identified as a COVID-19 “cluster,” a troubling designation that severely limits outsiders’ access to the facility.
Philips said her only way to get information about her mom is from one nurse at the complex. Her calls to the home’s managers have not been answered, she said.
“Not knowing, not getting information is quite disturbing and disconcerting,” Philips said. “She has to be fed. She cannot talk. She's wheelchair bound. So it's heartbreaking.”
For Philips, there is a deeper worry. With her mother in failing health and in hospice care, she has nightmares about the worst-case scenario: not being able to see her again.
“That's my biggest fear, that something should happen,” she said. “And I hope, hope that we will all survive this. That I could be with her, hug her, give her a kiss, tell her that I love her.”
With the help of the hospice nurse, Philips is able to talk to her mom on the telephone, but her mom’s inability to speak leaves her in the dark about what she is thinking and feeling during these difficult times.
“I just tell her that I love her. That my sister and two brothers love her. And I’ll be able to hug her soon.”