BOSTON (CBS) – Phyllis Gurdin was a trailblazer and an activist in her day. Her family says she couldn’t wait to be vaccinated so she could finally see her loved ones. “She got her first vaccine actually on her 87th birthday in January,” said Phyllis’s son, Steven Gurdin.
Phyllis’ other son, Dr. William Gurdin, tells the I-Team, “I’m fully vaccinated, I was looking forward to seeing her, I knew she was very lonely and scared and I wanted to reassure her.”READ MORE: OB-GYN Associations Recommend All Pregnant People Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19
Like many folks with loved ones in long-term care hospitals, the Gurdins had not been able to see Phyllis for several months.
They were thrilled when Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Roslindale opened up for visits in early March. Steven says he had a visit scheduled during that time, but it was canceled. He was told despite being vaccinated, she got quarantined after someone on her floor tested positive for COVID-19.
“She called me very upset,” William said. “She said, ‘Bill you’re a doctor, why did I get vaccinated?’ Medically I could give her a lot of reasons to be vaccinated but emotionally I couldn’t give her one.”
In a statement, Rachel Whitehouse, Chief Communications Officer for Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, said it follows Massachusetts guidelines for hospitals:
“Hebrew Rehabilitation Center is so pleased to be facilitating family visits in a safe and thoughtful manner following state guidelines. The majority of our patients are fully vaccinated. However, we remain vigilant because even one case of a COVID-19 infection among a staff member or patient causes us to initiate a vigorous infection control review which often leads to contact tracing, aggressive testing of all staff and patients, closing the floor to visitation, and implementing strong infection control practices to mitigate any further spread among our medically compromised patient populations.”READ MORE: 'We Want Answers': Friends Say Death Of Saugus Woman While Hiking In Arizona Needs To Be Further Investigated
Steve Gurdin finally got in to see his mother last Monday. The two were masked and were socially distanced with a glass shield between them. They communicated with a hearing device.
“I was able to you know hold her hand and I snuck in a hug on the way out,” Steve said. “I had no idea that was going to be the last visit.”
Phyllis died 48 hours later. Unexpectedly and of natural causes. The family says she got good care at the facility and blames the state for strict guidelines that they say kept her isolated and away from everyone she loved. William never got the chance to say goodbye or I love you.
Phyllis’s grandchildren, who were her pride and joy, didn’t get that opportunity either. All under 18 they were not allowed to visit. Eleven-year-old Danielle says the two shared a special bond.
“She always complimented me and never said anything bad to me, and I loved being with her,” Danielle said.MORE NEWS: Body Believed To Be Missing Man Kevin Mahoney Found In Water Off Newburyport
The state says it recently updated its guidance on visitation in long term care facilities. The Department of Public Health has relaxed some of the regulations to now allow fully vaccinated residents visits with their families.