Residents have been locked away from friends and family, DHEC inspections have been severely limited or nonexistent due to the virus, and countless employees fear retaliation for complaining about unsafe practices, short-staffing, and lack of PPE. It is rare to hear from the residents themselves — since many suffer from dementia and other debilitating conditions or don’t have an outlet to share their stories.
However, Linda Mayberry felt that local government officials weren’t doing enough to protect residents in nursing homes. But she had an iPad and a Twitter account. She knew many of her fellow residents didn’t have the ability to speak out so she decided to be their voice.
In some cases, she replied to tweets from government officials and journalists. In others, she offered what her life was like, detailing the outrage and frustration she was feeling. She didn’t know if anyone was seeing them, but it made her feel like she was doing something.
“As a nursing home resident, I feel as though I am in #DeathCamp2020 and we just got our first #COVID19 case 2 days ago,” she wrote on April 12. “No testing for staff or patients. Please help us.”
A nurse in protective gear informed her she was positive for the virus and needed to be moved to the isolation unit — which Mayberry described as starting with a hallway of the facility blocked off by a thick layer of plastic that hung from the ceiling to floor.
“I am afraid that I am going to be ignored to death here,” she said.