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EXCLUSIVE: Amid nursing home tragedies, stories of hope emerge

At the Glastonbury Health Care Center you can call it a rolling caravan of hope. Six COVID recovered residents, tested negative and are now able to leave isolation.

GLASTONBURY, Conn — The grim news coming from nursing homes is easy to find. But dig a little deeper, and you’ll also find stories of inspiration.

Thursday night we are expecting new data on the infections and deaths inside nursing homes. Also, for the first time, assisted living facilities will be included in the data.

The numbers are tragic. But not to be overlooked are the stories of hope.

At the Glastonbury Health Care Center you can call it a rolling caravan of hope. Six residents that have recovered from COVID tested negative and are now able to leave isolation.

Nickeisha Bewry-Clarke is the facility Administrator.

She told FOX61, "I can’t even describe it in words. We’re overwhelmed with joy. We are ecstatic. It’s a different feeling when you realize that your positive COVID patients have now recovered."

They battled the beast, and won.

"This is our first graduation. We went out and bought supplies. We had music, we are the champions was chosen by the team," explained Bewry-Clarke.

One of the recovered residents is Joyce Parmelee.

"They finally tested me and I had the Coronavirus," she said.

FOX61 asked her what was going through her mind when she found out that she had COVID-19.

"This is it. I’m done," Parmelee said. "I thought I’m not going to get through this."

But she did, and she credits the quality of care.

"I got excellent care here. Couldn’t ask for anything better. I said to my daughter. She said how do you feel? I said Sharon, I’m treated like a queen," Parmelee added.

Some herculean work is also ongoing inside CT’s 4 COVID-recovery centers. 

Athena Healthcare has partnered with the state to stand up the facilities in Torrington, Sharon, Northbridge and Meriden. They are meant as an intermediate level of care between home and the hospital.

Many of the patients here used to be on ventilators.

Doctor Frank Crociata works at COVID recovery center in Torrington.

He said they, free up hospital beds but giving them a place to go where they are not going to be exposing other vulnerable patients at nursing homes.

24 patients are on the mend in Torrington. They are treated with oxygen and IV fluids.

They have patients as young as 55 and as old as 92.

Crociata told FOX61 he sees the hope every day.

"It’s very very rewarding...15 years from now when I tell my grand kids what it was like during this outbreak, I can tell them my story and the things that we did."

FOX61 was also in Meriden Thursday where the Connecticut National Guard was helping to set up beds they got at a Bridgeport nursing home that fell into state receivership.

"The state realized that there were beds that were just sitting there not helping anyone. So that was identified and now the guard is helping to move those to a facility in Torrington as well as that Meriden facility," said Captain David Pytlik.

They’ll begin accepting patients as soon as this weekend. 

The COVID recovery centers are part of the state’s surge plan to make sure hospitals don’t get overrun.

They’re working to establish better testing and will be working with the state to secure emerging therapeutics including the promising anti-viral drug Remdesivir.

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