Carrie Leljedal is a Family Advocate, Essential Caregiver’s Coalition, Illinois
On March 13, 2020, I was told that due to COVID restrictions I could not see my son Lynn Ray, who resides in a long-term care facility here in Illinois. I never thought that day would change my life forever. [Lynn Ray and Carrie pictured above]
I went 128 days without seeing Lynn and it just about killed me. I swore I would find a way to make sure this never happened again. I was totally clueless as to what I was facing but, as I have said from the beginning, I was one mad Mom.
Today I am finally able to say we have made sure that residents in LTCF in Illinois will never be kept from their essential caregivers again. Today Illinois passed SB2322.
It all started with a few very upset women willing to stand with and to fight for our loved ones -- Because isolation kills too! Illinois Caregivers for Compromise (ILC4C) became known around the state and we were able to get a few people to listen and help us. Thankfully IL State Senator Jil Tracy (R) and IL State Representative Charlie Meier (R) introduced the Essential Support Person Act in the General Assembly.
The Act provides that "a resident or the resident's representative may designate a primary essential support personand a secondary essential support person who may visit the resident despite general visitation restrictions imposed on other visitors, provided that the primary essential support person or secondary essential support person complies with any rules adopted by the Department of Public Health to protect the health, safety, and well-being of residents."
I will forever be grateful to those that have helped us along the way. Never let anyone tell you one person cannot make a difference in this world. I proved today that one person can make a difference.