In response to the majority of residents at the Jersey Shore ManorCare being infected with COVID-19, more than 100 people gathered for a community prayer and worship circle outside the facility on Wednesday evening.
A young woman played guitar to accompany singing and several people offered up prayers for the ManorCare residents.
"You are the great physician, Lord, you have the power over the coronavirus," Pastor John Phillips of Crossroads Church prayed. "We plead Lord Jesus that we can call upon your healing hand to touch every resident, every staff member that enters that building, Lord."
Phillips listed the names of several people living in the ManorCare, offering their names up for prayer.
Members of Crossroads Church helped organize the event, and members of other congregations, including Mountain View Christian and Missionary Alliance, attended. Neighbors of the facility and people with family inside were there as well, with fire police blocking off the street.
Jerry Clark and his family had a distanced visit through the window with Clark's grandmother, Betty Thompson, who has lived in Jersey Shore all her life.
"We've been doing a lot of praying. We live close thank goodness and we can ride bikes or walk here," Clark said. "Luckily she has a room with a window. But never would we have thought we would have to resort to those measures to talk with your mom or grandmother."
Thompson has tested negative for COVID-19, with tests taking place once a week, Clark said. The family has been dropping off things to keep her busy, while discussing the potential of moving Thompson out of the facility.
"There are hoops you have to go through. It's not as easy as moving a family member," Clark said. "Do they lose their spot? Do they lose their care after all their assets are depleted? Do you have to start the process again if they need care? Do family members have space and all different requirements at home for the level of care?"
Lycoming County commissioner Rick Mirabito was on site for the prayer time.
"I'm concerned about the ability of residents there to exercise rights under state law to have a choice about where they want to be cared for," Mirabito said. "There's a difference between having a right and knowing how to exercise that right and having the state or the county help them exdrcise that right and have it come to fruition."
Mirabito referenced a May 5 press conference from Dr. Mark Gloth, a vice president of Manor Care's parent company. On that date, Gloth said there was a 15 percent mortality rate in all of the chain's homes.
"We have people talking about the right to have a hair cut and the right to stay open," Mirabito said. "These people have a right to stay alive. I applaud the people who are here tonight praying but we are going to need more than simply praying. While that helps, we need to take some concrete action."
"I'm not condemning the chain," Mirabito continued. "What I’m saying, with $5 bilion in revenue with lot of sophisticated people working there, they need to find a way to come to little old Jersey Shore and help solve the problem.”
Misty Dion of Roads to Freedom Center for Independent Living, said no one at Jersey Shore ManorCare in the 120-bed facility has a room to themselves. There are FEMA funds available to help people who want to leave a home, and her organization can help with skilled nursing and attendants.
"They’re not prisoners, they’re people," Dion said. "And so we want them to have the choice to protect themselves, live, and be safe.”
Mirabito and Dion emphasized that anyone who wants to look at their options could contact their respective offices.
Charles Rinehart's 86-year-old father survived a COVID-19 infection in ManorCare. He had a FaceTime conversation with his father on Wednesday.
"They thought they were going to lose him a couple times," Rinehart said. "It was real bad ... he was there and transferred over to hospital. He was there like two weeks and they just brought him back ... We've been coming here almost a year and the nurses, helpers, the cleaning people are all excellent."