Local Couple Reunite at Marian Extended Care Center for First Time since Beginning of COVID-19 Pandemic


Patient and wife elated to visit one another after more than seven months apart

SANTA MARIA, CA – November 18, 2020 – November 18, 2020 – After seven months, Marian Regional Medical Center’s Extended Care Center (MECC) relaxed visitation policies for residents, allowing one visitor per week by appointment in a designated area. Many of the patients in the center have not seen loved ones since the inception of COVID-19 in March, and as such, husband and wife James and Phyllis Sabo were overjoyed to have the opportunity to reunite after months apart.  

James, a former volunteer at Marian Regional Medical Center who suffered a stroke during a shift, was admitted to MECC for long-term care in 2018. He was used to having frequent visits from his beloved wife of 60 years, Phyllis, a volunteer at Mission Hope Cancer Center. On Friday, March 13 of this year, Phyllis visited James before her shift and had planned to come back afterwards to eat with him. When she returned that afternoon, for the safety of both patients and staff, the center had been closed to visitors due to COVID-19.

The following week, Phyllis was also released from her volunteer position to limit the number of people at the hospital. Phyllis was saddened, as their visits had become routine. 

“While we were apart, he called me every morning to tell me about the previous evening, and then again at night to tell me about his day, and a few more times in between,” said Phyllis. The nurses facilitated facetime for the couple, which Phyllis enjoyed, despite her distaste for the newly grown beard he had developed during his period of separation.

After seven months of not seeing her husband, Phyllis received word that she could visit him once again. At their first encounter, not knowing what to expect, Phyllis got her temperature checked, donned a mask and gloves, and was able to reconnect and hold his hands for the first time in months. 

“Our visit was short, says Phyllis, but I was so happy to see him was glad he was doing so well.” It will again become ritual as Phyllis has a standing appointment to visit James each week. 

“Every night in my prayers, I pray for all of the caregivers at Marian Extended Care Center,” says Phyllis. “They are so kind and so good to James; they put me at peace knowing he is in great hands.” 

Marian Extended Care Center’s is nationally recognized as Best Nursing Homes for Short Stay Rehabilitation and Long-Term Care by U.S. News and World Report. The 95-skilled bed nursing facility provides sub-acute health care for individuals in need or short-term, intermediate, or long-term care. The facility is conveniently located across from Marian Regional, and provides patients and residents with immediate access to the finest routine and emergency medical care on the Central Coast.

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About Marian Regional Medical Center
Marian Regional Medical Center is a technologically advanced, 191-bed facility that provides safe, quality care.  Marian has been a recipient of the Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence. Marian is designated a STEMI Receiving Center in Santa Barbara County, and is designated a Level III Trauma Center by Santa Barbara County’s Emergency Medical Services Agency. The facility has achieved prestigious designation as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission for advanced, comprehensive care for stroke patients. Our cancer care program is accredited as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, and received the Outstanding Achievement Award. The campus houses a comprehensive perinatology/ neonatology program, providing specialized care to the tiniest of patients. Marian is a member of Dignity Health Central Coast, which also includes Arroyo Grande Community Hospital in Arroyo Grande, CA, French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, CA, St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard, CA, and St. John’s Pleasant Valley in Camarillo, CA. Dignity Health Central Coast is an integrated network of top quality hospitals, physicians from the most prestigious medical schools, and comprehensive outpatient services, including primary care offices, premier surgery centers, technologically-advanced laboratories, imaging centers and a full service home health agency; all recognized for quality, safety and service.


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