Inside one family's coronavirus nightmare at Seattle-area nursing home
Kirkland, United StatesPhotography byReuters Photographers. Reporting byTim ReidandJoshua Schneyer.
Lori Spencer had an uneasy feeling after dropping her 81-year-old mother off at the Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, Washington on Feb. 26. She felt even worse the next day, when her mother, Judie Shape, threw an uncharacteristic tantrum - begging to leave the facility.
What the family didn’t know at the time: The home was already dealing with the initial signs of what would soon become the deadliest coronavirus outbreak in the United States. A week before, on Feb. 19, the facility had sent out a patient with respiratory problems for testing, followed by a second patient on Feb. 24. Life Care officials have said they initially suspected flu.
Spencer continues to talk to her mother several times a day by phone, usually looking at her through the window of her room. Shape isn’t sleeping much. She tries to remain upbeat. Her coronavirus symptoms so far have been less severe than many others of her age and medical condition, giving her and her family hope.
The mother struggled with isolation and loneliness before her hospital and nursing home stays. She has grown more fearful - and angry - watching the TV news on coronavirus while cooped up in her room.
“My mom is isolated, at the end of her life,” Spencer said. “She doesn’t deserve this.”