'It's insanity:' Manhattan woman sues for right to visit disabled husband at nursing home

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A Manhattan nursing home is being sued by the wife of a patient who says she hasn't been able to visit her husband for eight months.

Marcella Goheen says she's been unable to visit her elderly husband at the Isabella Geriatric Center in Upper Manhattan since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

She says it’s been traumatic for her to video call him and watch his condition worsen.

Goheen says she has two options: “Watch my husband decline through a video chat daily or seek to gain clarity and visitation direction from the courts of justice for the wellbeing of my disabled husband.”

Goheen’s husband, 66-year-old Bobby Viteri, has a rare neurological disorder that prevents him from eating, speaking or moving on his own.

While millions of Americans have been denied visits with their loved ones at nursing homes throughout the country, and some were forced to say their final goodbyes on video calls, attorney Michael Sussman says Goheen’s case is much different.

“This is a case in which that loved one provides specific services, which were elaborated in the complaint, that assists her husband deal with the manifestations of this disability,” the attorney said.

Sussman says Viteri’s wife use to visit the Isabella Geriatric Center for four to seven hours every day to help with the 66-year-old’s therapies to slow his degeneration.

The 66-year-old’s wife says she is his caretaker and deserves to be able to see him and help him with his medical treatments.

“It is his right to stand up for himself, to speak for himself, but as he is non-verbal, I, as his wife and his essential and compassionate caregiver, have to go to court to speak for him and his needs,” she said. “It’s insanity.”

Goheen is suing the nursing home for the right to visit her husband daily. She is also seeking unspecified damages for her husband who she says is depressed, despondent and losing weight.

The nursing home, which lost 68 patients to COVID-19, told WCBS 880 it would not comment on pending litigation.

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