Mary Daniel, 57, works days as the chief executive of a small company that helps patients with health care bills. Now, two days a week, Daniel also works the nightshift Rosecastle Assisted Living and Memory Care facility in Jacksonville, where her sweetheart of 24 years, Steve, is a resident.
Steve, 66, has early-onset Alzheimer’s and on Tuesday Daniel told “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy that being kept apart for 114 days was hard for him. As coronavirus spread, Gov. Ron DeSantis banned visitations to nursing homes to protect patients and prevent the spread among a vulnerable population.
The pair tried FaceTime calls and two window visits she explained were “extremely difficult” for Steve.
“So, after Father’s Day I decided that wasn’t going to work either,” Daniels said.
Then, out of the blue, the corporate office reached out to Mary and offered her a job.
“They told me that they did have a part-time job available if I was interested,” she continued. “I said, ‘I am definitely interested. What is it?’ And, they said it’s a dishwasher. So I said, ‘Well, I will be a dishwasher then.’”
Daniel heads to Rosecastle, works her shift, and then gets to spend a couple of hours with Steve. The lovers reunited on July 3.
“Oh my God, it’s absolutely priceless,” she said. “He is a dementia patient and dementia patients need love and care. They need touch. They need companionship. Their brain, without it, will just wither away.”
The couple gets ready for bed together “just like [they] used to.”
“Even though it’s only two days a week, he now knows I’m there and I’m coming back. And, until that, for 114 days he did not know that; I was not there,” Daniels told Doocy.
But there are still obstacles ahead for the Daniels family and for all those with loved ones at assisted care facilities.
“We are hoping that we can mobilize this and really we are trying to get to our governors in every state to just talk to us about what’s happening. We have isolated these patients to save them. And, this isolation is going to kill them,” she said. “There is going to be huge collateral damage here.”
“There has to be a better way for us to get in under safe circumstances, whether that be outdoor space, indoor space, a clean room. Other states are doing things that are working and we need to do that, too,” Daniels concluded.
Daniels has created a Facebook group called “Caregivers for Compromise – because isolation kills too” looking to “join forces as a common voice for our loved ones in Assisted Living Facilities who are dying from isolation.”
Fox News’ Peter Aitken contributed to this report.