This family's concern: What are the safe options for COVID-19 patients who can't go home?

The coronavirus has had an especially harsh impact on older people and their families.


The coronavirus has had an especially harsh impact on older people and their families.

Sister station WBAL spoke with one family over their concern about safe options for coronavirus patients who can't go home.

Caring for older relatives can be challenging without a pandemic, so imagine some of the issues now for some families.

“I got to believe that we are not the only family going through this,” Leon Thomas said.

Thomas' mother has the coronavirus. Willie Thomas, 92, was diagnosed while at St. Agnes Hospital for an unrelated medical issue.

“And while mom was in the hospital, we found out that one of the home health care workers contracted COVID, was positive and so that’s when we notified the hospital, ‘You may want to test mom because someone in the home was positive,’” Thomas said.

Willie Thomas tested positive and is in the highest-risk group.

To date, people over the age of 60 in Maryland make up 19.6% of overall coronavirus cases but 86.5% of deaths.


The good news is that Willie Thomas has not been seriously ill. Leon Thomas said the hospital now wants to discharge her. The family's concern is the lack of what they see as safe options.

She can't go home because someone else in the home also has COVID-19.

The hospital, Leon Thomas said, suggested the Lord Baltimore Hotel, which is being used to isolate coronavirus patients, but Willie is wheelchair bound, unable to care for herself and nursing homes make the family uneasy.

“The issues with that if you look at the data with nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, it's clear that someone that's 92, African-American, with underlying health conditions, recovering from COVID, that’s not a safe place for mom to be,” Leon Thomas said.

A spokesman for St. Agnes Hospital said: “All patients receive a safe discharge plan which is agreed upon with the patient or their family before a patient is discharged from the hospital.”

The family is pushing for the hospital to keep her, at least until she's clear of the virus.

“For us, it seems the safest place for mom to be is in the hospital until that 14-day period ends,” Leon Thomas said.

Experts say the best option for a case like this, considering age and medical conditions, would be in-home services. The family agrees but says the cost is out of reach.