BOWIE, Md. — Doris Larmore, 72, died sometime after midnight on Easter Sunday after contracting the coronavirus, her family said. She had been a resident at Larkin Chase Center in Bowie, which has now reported 13 positive cases and two deaths, including Larmore's.
“I just can’t believe that she’s not here," said Larmore's daughter, Vonda Gainer.
Her family said they learned of her diagnosis Thursday when the nursing home said they needed to take her to the hospital. Gainer said the nurse called them so they could tell their mom they loved her and were thinking of her.
“You have no idea how much crying I’ve done," Gainer said. "I feel really sad. I feel bad. I feel helpless. I feel anger.”
Larmore had been staying at the center since she contracted a stomach disease in November.
She told WUSA 9 last week that she also had sarcoidosis, a lung disease, which had forced her to be on oxygen. And, she's a diabetic.
"And I have a bunch of other problems, but those are the main [ones]," she said.
Gainer said she had just spoken with her mom Saturday, hours before they lost her.
“People need to take COVID-19/the coronavirus seriously. This is real," she said, tearfully. "It can have a very, very big impact on your life, and it’s going to be changed forever.”
The senior said over the last few weeks, she had been noticing some changes in procedure, from more employees wearing PPE to the nursing home going into a complete lockdown.
“My daughter was here one week, and then they put us on lockdown, and I said 'why did they put us on lockdown?'” Larmore said.
Larmore learned the answer last Saturday when the center said the health department notified them of five positive cases.
“I’m not feeling good about it," she said. "And, I wish there was something I could do to get out of here, because I just don’t need no more issues.”
The center said its staff has put all residents in quarantine to help limit the spread, which had only brought slight comfort to Larmore's daughter, Vonda Gainer.
“I mean, this is serious," Gainer said. "Not one patient is in that facility because they’re healthy. They have underlying health issues, and I just feel like in a facility like that, the way that it’s affected or impacted other facilities, every patient needs to be tested, and every staff member.”
A spokesperson for the center said they are only testing residents and staff who are symptomatic, per the health department's recommendation.
Gainer, who lives in Florida, was also worried about the siblings who still live in Maryland. She said they used to bring food to her mom at the home weekly.
Initially, she was worried that they could have contracted the virus during the food exchange, before they were aware of the positive cases.
“This is just scary on so many levels," said Gainer.
Despite their worries, she said she and her siblings had been trying to stay upbeat for their mom's sake.
“We’re going to do our very best to mentally keep her as positive as we can," Gainer said.
Now, Gainer said they're working to figure out how to plan a funeral during the pandemic as they try to honor the memory of the lively woman Larmore was. That's another challenge during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Me, my brother, and my sister were talking on the phone," Gainer said Sunday. "It kind of hit us while we were talking that we’re not going to be able to fellowship, grieve, go down memory lane with the rest of our family members, maybe not even each other.”
But, they can share snapshots of a full life and memories of a "vibrant, funny, and outspoken" woman.
“My mom was one of the most encouraging, and motivating people in my life. She was funny," Gainer said. "And, my mom was very, very smart.”
A spokesperson for the Larkin Chase Center sent the following statement April 12, with an update on cases:
At Larkin Chase Center, we are adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines and recommended protocols for COVID-19. We continue to follow to the letter the direction of the Maryland Department of Health in an effort to contain and minimize the spread of the virus. To date, the total number of positive cases is 13 residents. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these residents during this difficult time, especially the families of the two residents who passed away.