JERSEY SHORE – It was touch and go for Charles Rinehart as the coronavirus worked its way through his system behind the locked doors of ManorCare Health Services.
“They almost lost him a few times,” said his son, who also is named Charles.
His father now on the mend, Rinehart had nothing but good things to say about the staff at ManorCare.
“I have nothing but praise for what they are trying to do with what they have to work with,” Rinehart said.
His reaction contrasted with some expressed during Wednesday evening’s prayer vigil, which turned tense as accusations about the conditions inside the facility were raised. The vigil was organized as a grassroots effort to show support for the residents, according to Pastor John Phillips, of Crossroads Church, who pastors a number of the residents.
“My heart just breaks that they are in there and they can’t be with their loved ones,” Phillips said. “We just want to bring church to them.”
Giving residents of the facility the option of leaving was the goal of Roads to Freedom: Center for Independent Living representatives who also attended the vigil. But it was off to a rocky start when some family members asked them to leave, saying it was not the right time.
Karen Koch, disability rights activist with Roads to Freedom, said the intent of attending the vigil was to make contact with family members who may want to remove their loved ones from the facility.
“It’s an option for people to transition out, live in the community and have choice and control in their life and be treated with dignity,” Koch said.
Lycoming County Commissioner Rick Mirabito also attended the vigil with Roads to Freedom and called for a complete inspection of the Jersey Shore facility by the state Department of Health, as well members of the ManorCare corporate office in Toledo, Ohio.
“If they want to get out and have the same care in a safe place, we can do that,” said Misty Dion, CEO of Roads to Freedom.