‘I’ve got to be there for them,’ says Raleigh hospice certified nursing assistant

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Coronavirus has even changed the way people die, under quarantine, with no family or friends allowed.

Pearl Riley, a local certified nursing assistant or CNA, said she’s doing her best to keep her patients safe.

She works for Transitions LifeCare, which has been around for more than 40 years. 

“I’ve got to be there for them,” Riley said.

RELATED: Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Riley said she’s taking precautions to keep her family and her patients safe. 

“They are more susceptible to catching things because they all have terminal illnesses,” she explained. 

Riley now wears protective gear, often she’s the only person the ill person has seen. 

“A lot of times it’s new for the family and they don’t really know what to expect,” Riley said.

The harder part, she admits, is that many die alone. Family and friends are no longer allowed to be at their bedside.

“A lot of them accept it. They like to talk about it. They like to talk to you about it.  And we just lend a good ear sometimes for them. And they’re happy to see us when we come in,”  she said.

Steve Elderkin recently lost a loved one.

“It was a little bit of a shock for us even though she was in the high-risk group,” Steve Elderkin, a North Raleigh man said.

Elderkin lost his 92-year-old aunt who lived in Pennsylvania to COVID-19.

Her husband is in quarantine after he tested positive for the virus. They were married more than 60 years. 

“He’s dealing with the loss of his wife plus having to deal with the sickness himself,” Elderkin said.

He told CBS 17 his aunt was in good health. She went to the hospital after falling.

There, she was diagnosed with pneumonia and later COVID-19. She died days later alone in the hospital. 

“Not even being able to say goodbye or even attend a funeral it makes it a little bit difficult,” Elderkin said.

His cousin and his cousin’s wife were also diagnosed with COVID-19. They went to visit their daughter who just had a baby in NYC. Fortunately, they are on the mend.

Elderkin is urging people to take the virus seriously. 

More headlines from CBS17.com:

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