7 On Your Side Investigates: NY nursing homes still on lockdown, families want visitation

NEW YORK (WABC) -- For the past four months, 78-year-old Army veteran Vincent Doherty hasn't been able to have visitors or go outside of the veterans home where he lives in Long Island.

"Is there a chance that I will see my brother?" his sister, Marian Graviano, said. "Or is it going to be another month? Could it be another two?"

As of now, no visitation has been allowed at nursing and assisted living centers in New York since the COVID-19 pandemic first started.

But in New Jersey, right across the river, visitation has been allowed since June 21.

"It really has set him back," Graviano said.

She says her brother is receiving the best care, but being cooped up inside his room is taking its toll on his body and mind.

"He would love to hear birds," she said. "Just to feel a breeze, a breath of fresh air."

She, along with many other New York families, feel visitation rules should be the same across the area, unless a nursing facility is currently experiencing at outbreak.

The rules are developed by each state's department of health.

In New York, the department of health said in a statement that it's still "...developing a smart, methodical and data-drive approach" to allowing visitation at the facilities. But officials didn't say when that could start happening.

Federal guidelines recommend a facility goes at least 28 days without having a new positive case before allowing visitors.

"But what happens if we get to day 27 and there's a positive case?" Graviano said. "So we have to start all over?"

Governor Andrew Cuomo has not recently addressed the issue.

Doherty tested posted for COVID-19 back in April and never showed symptoms. He has since tested negative.

Graviano is a retired nurse who knows how important it is to keep the high risk population safe. She also believes those inside facilities need to know they have something to look forward to.

"So many people are in the same situation and their families are in the same situation and something has to give," she said. "The residents and the families are entitled to have some type of an answer."

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