Jacksonville caregiver pushing for change gets help from Congress


JACKSONVILLE, Florida – A Jacksonville woman whose story made national news during the pandemic continues to make a difference to people like her.

Mary Daniel is struggling to take care of her husband and now has members of Congress by her side.

Daniel’s husband, Steve, has Alzheimer’s disease. He was diagnosed when he was just 59 years old.

“It’s crazy that the hardest decision I’ve ever made to get him there has made such a difference to so many people across the United States,” Daniel told News4Jax. “It was such a difficult decision. And then being locked out was so difficult for so many people, but it could make a difference for a long, long time.”

In this July 13, 2020 photo made available by Rosecastle at the Deerwood Assisted Facility in Jacksonville, Fla., Mary Daniels and her husband Steve, sit together in her bedroom on Monday, July 13, 2020. Mary went 114 days without see her husband, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, after the coronavirus forced the establishment to ban all visitors. She took a part-time dishwasher job at the facility so that she could see her husband. (Rosecastle to Deerwood via AP) (Rosecastle to Deerwood)

Daniel was locked out like all the other caregivers when the pandemic hit. She fought to bring attention to the problem and she starts again.

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Three members of Congress recently introduced The Essential Caregivers Act, including Jacksonville Representative John Rutherford.

“I’ll tell you, he’s a great example, I think, of someone who has a passion and who really does it not just at the local state level,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford congratulates Daniel on securing Governor Ron DeSantis to allow caregivers to return to facilities last September.

Now Bill’s godfathers and Mary Daniel want to make sure that Steve Daniel’s isolation doesn’t happen again.

Mary got a job at the facility so that she could see her husband, desperate to hold his hand or give him a hug.

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“Being there with our loved ones not only provides a functional role, where we actually help the staff, but then I’m there to rub their back and give them a hug,” she said. “He still doesn’t know I was a dishwasher, he doesn’t know about COVID. He has no idea. What he knows is my love and my touch, and he’s happier with me with him, and I’m happier with me with him knowing that I’m giving him the care that I promised him so many years ago. years old when diagnosed. “

The bill would designate two “essential caregivers” who would still have access to their loved ones, even following health and safety protocols.

Mary Daniel and John Rutherford are guests on This week in Jacksonville This weekend. The show airs Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. on Channel 4.

Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.


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