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Forsyth County woman ‘very anxious’ as mother, 84, in rehab facility can’t have visitors
Vivian Heard
Vivian Heard, left, with her mother, Mary Jo Orr in Rome in 2014. -Photo courtesy Vivian Heard

Vivian Heard had been with her 84-year-old mother, Mary Jo Orr, every step of her recovery after having surgery in January.

Either Heard or her dad, Joe Orr, Mary Jo’s husband of 62 years, had been visiting Mary Jo at the senior rehab facility where she’s staying every day.

Until March 11.

Heard, or her dad, haven’t seen Mary Jo since after the facility instituted a no-visitors policy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Heard, communications and public relations manager at Pinecrest Academy, said the family was able to get her mother’s phone to her, but the lack of face-to-face interaction has been hard.

“It’s been extremely difficult and extremely stressful because we can’t be on the inside at all to check on her progress, see the care she’s getting and that sort of thing,” Heard said. “… It’s difficult because we want her spirits to remain high, so that she doesn’t get down and out throughout this time, so we’re trying to call her, encourage her, text her, everything we can do to stay in contact with her.”

Along with dealing with the medical issues, the distance has also made it hard to celebrate family events, though they are still trying.

“Her birthday was St. Patrick’s Day,” Heard said. “One of my cousins and I, a lot of people sent birthday cards to the facility so she would have a good birthday despite her circumstances and feel special and feel loved and feel support for her.”

Heard said her father is also in his 80s, so the family has also had to keep their distance from him in an attempt to not spread the disease and make sure he stays home, which isn’t always easy.

“Last Friday, my dad decided to show up at the facility anyway,” she said. “I wish I had been able to take a picture of this, but they put my mother in a wheelchair and wheeled her into the director’s office so that she and my dad could see each other through the window and talk.”

No timetable has been set for when Mary Jo will be released, which Heard said made her “very anxious,” and even trying to move her to another facility has been an issue, as one potential spot is not accepting new patients right now due to the outbreak.

“Our goal right now is to get her well enough to come home and finish her physical therapy at home,” Heard said.

Until it is safe for her mother to come home, Heard said she wants to make sure those who don’t have to worry about the virus are still doing their part to make sure it doesn’t spread.

“I hope that our young people realize that their actions can really, really affect their own elderly loved ones and to really take precautions that people are asking them to take by the social distancing and really adhering to the request made by those that are on the front lines and trying to do the best for our country and keep our people safe,” Heard said.

“They may feel healthy. They may feel that if they get the coronavirus that the chances are slim, but just ask them to consider their own grandparents or own loved ones that might be at great risk if we don’t all do our part in protecting one another.”