Dubuque family mourns loss of mother at long-term care facility

Peggy Trowbridge contracted COVID-19 at the nursing home
Published: Nov. 23, 2020 at 11:27 PM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - A Dubuque family is mourning the loss of its mother.

Peggy Trowbridge spent more than five years at Luther Manor, a long-term care facility in Dubuque where the state, on Monday, reported 82 positive cases.

Trowbridge died in early November after testing positive for COVID-19. The family said she was never alone, until the pandemic hit. After that, Trowbridge’s family did not get to spend time with her until July.

”That first time we met, she was almost shell-shocked,” Robin Breiner, one of her daughters, said. ”She just stared at us trying to memorize our face. So we did as many visits as we could, but it always ended up with her crying when we were leaving.“

Trowbridge had been battling Parkinson’s for more than a decade.

”Even with daily phone calls, window visits two to three times a week, outside visits twice a week she was still mentally declining to the point that she had said, ‘I am not sure what is real anymore,’” Breiner said.

In September, they got a glimmer of hope: indoors compassionate care visits.

”There was an immediate difference in her,” Breiner said. “The sparkle came back, she was able to hold a conversation, she even referenced ‘I love this; I feel normal’.”

But that lasted for about three weeks.

”By October 12 we were called: our visits were canceled and the outbreak started at the home,” Breiner said.

That is when the situation for Trowbridge and her family started to get worse: Luther Manor currently has the largest coronavirus outbreak in the county. Just six days later, Trowbridge tested positive for the virus.

”She had very mild symptoms, some tummy troubles, just a low-grade fever for a couple of days, but the fatigue is what really knocked her down,” Breiner said. ”There was such a drastic change, you know, we had gone from discussing her birthday, which was October 25 of what she wanted for her birthday, what present she wanted, to almost she was unable to communicate.”

But they would not miss her 86th birthday. Even if they had to stand outside on a cold, autumn day.

”Because she was too weak to talk, she had prepared a list of songs, because Mom always wanted us to sing, and printed out the lyrics and we had a Trowbridge family concert outside her window,” Breiner said.

Trowbridge passed away on November 4, 10 days after her birthday.

”The thing that is even harder is that the death certificate lists cause of death is COVID, and, you know, I do not accept that,” Breiner said. “That diminishes the fight she went through. For 14 years she battled Parkinson’s disease; that is what killed her. Eight months of isolation did the rest.”

As Trowbridge’s family grieves, they are also thinking of those who have to see what they went through, but almost daily.

”Other staff say that they are pulling extra shifts so they can be there when she passes,” Breiner said. “How do we ever repay these people? They are working in a warzone and, when this pandemic is over, they are all going to need counseling.“

KCRG-TV9 could not get a comment from Luther Manor, but Breiner said the family is satisfied with their experience at the nursing home.

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