ELLSWORTH — The parents of a Cherryfield girl enrolled at KidsPeace say that rules put in place have prevented them from hugging their child since coronavirus arrived in Maine.
That was until Friday.
“She wasn’t aware it had changed. And so when he grabbed her squeezed her she was like, ‘Are we allowed to do this? Is it OK’ And he was like, ‘Yes, it’s OK. We have like 20 seconds to hug,'” said Suzanne of Cherryfield, whose daughter resides at KidsPeace and asked that her last name not be used.
The girl’s father, William, who also asked that his last name not be released, said the hug was “probably one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in a long time. I don’t know if people truly understand what it’s like to go six months without touching your child.”
“Touching somebody you love,” added his wife, talking over her husband.
Their 13-year-old daughter started at the mental health treatment, crisis intervention and public education program in January. Once COVID-19 arrived, safety restrictions were put in place banning visits, except for one hour a week and the parents were required to wear masks and stay six feet apart.
“The CDC, Department of Health and Human Services and the governor, I understand that they’re trying to keep everybody safe but there is a cost,” William said. “And sometimes that cost is a lot higher to a family.”
The family filed two formal complaints with the company over the restrictions.
“She’s like, ‘Why am I being punished for not wearing my mask the right way when the staff isn’t wearing it the right way.’ And so she’s like, ‘Why is it OK for the adult but not for me?'” Suzanne said.
“Same thing,’ Why do they get to eat with me but my parents can’t eat with me?'” he husband added.
KidsPeace spokesman Robert Martin said the top priority is the safety and wellbeing of the ones in their care.
“We recognize the frustration that some parents are feeling in light of these policy adjustments, but we believe that they are necessary from a medical and client safety standpoint,” Martin said in a released statement.
One complaint from the Cherryfield family was about worshiping together. The couple learned Friday religious accommodations would be made and a new plan was being created to add more access.
“You couldn’t help but cry. I mean honestly, the emotion was so thick. I think we needed more than she did,” Suzanne said.