Five days after their protest, families visit loved ones in NYS group homes |

Five days after their protest, families visit loved ones in NYS group homes

Berkeley Brean
Updated: June 19, 2020 06:35 PM
Created: June 19, 2020 06:03 PM

GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) — The COVID crisis took a toll on a lot of our neighbors. It was particularly hard on families with children and siblings in group homes that were in lockdown.

At the start of this week, News10NBC showed you how the families demanded the homes open up. 

On Friday, they made their first visits in four months.

Brean: "The last time you were able to see him in person was March 12. It's been a long time."

Beverly Lillie, son in a group home: "It's been a very long time."

I first met Beverly Lillie at the protest Monday outside the state Office of People with Developmental Disabilities. 

The families wanted the governor to open the homes for visits. 

The governor did that Tuesday

On Wednesday, Beverly, her husband, and grandchildren showed me where her son Chris is living in Greece. 

And now, five days since the protest, she's seen her son face-to-face for the first time in four months. 

Beverly Lillie: "When he first came out and he looked at us he wanted to come right over and touch us and give us a hug and I had to back off, my husband and I, just a little bit, let him touch us and then back off because we didn't want him quarantined."

Beverly took these photos of her son and his dad doing a Father's Day project. The finished piece said "Dad."

Coronavirus hit the 38,000 people who live in group homes in New York. 

The OPWDD says 2,473 residents got infected, and 378 died. 

Sharon Messina took cell phone video and photos when she visited her brother at his group home in Fairport. Families are thankful for the change to visit, but they want the state to loosen the rules at group homes even more. 

Sharon Messina, brother David is 51-years-old: "We just want a plan. We just want a safe plan for them to go back to their day programs, for them to have their physical therapy, occupational speech therapy."

Brean: "Where do you want to go from here? What changes do you want to see now?"

Beverly Lillie: "Open the doors up. Let us take him home."

"Families of people with developmental disabilities all across New York State were able to successfully visit with their loved ones in person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency beginning today," wrote Jennifer O'Sullivan, spokeswoman for OPWDD.

"The resumption of visitation in group homes is a very important first step in our efforts to return to a 'new normal,' and as always, our number one priority as we resume visitation is to continue to ensure the health and safety of the people we support."

OPWDD says occupational and physical therapy was done through Zoom meetings, and the office is looking into safe ways to do that work in person. 

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