Kathleen Escobar will never forget the day in November 2020 when COVID-19 hit the memory care center where her mother lived. 

An aide from Table Rock Memory Care in Medford called to tell Escobar three of the facility’s residents had COVID infections. The aide reassured her: Escobar’s 88-year-old mother, Peggy James, showed no signs of having COVID.

But the news alarmed Escobar. She lived a few minutes away — she could dash over and bring her mother home until the COVID outbreak at Table Rock ended. The Table Rock aide told her that wouldn’t be necessary. The residents with COVID had been isolated. Her mother was safe. 

“They acted like it was no big deal,” Escobar says. “They were very much like, ‘It’s all right. Don’t worry about it.’”

It wasn’t all right. Table Rock failed to contain the outbreak, and within days, the number of cases exploded from a few to 87. 

Three days after telling Escobar there was nothing to worry about, Table Rock called back to report her mother now had COVID. “My mother suffered terribly,” Escobar says. “She had no idea what was happening to her.” On Dec. 3, 2020, Peggy James died from pneumonia brought on by COVID.

Eventually, 19 people died in the COVID outbreak at Table Rock. Escobar says she still struggles with anger toward Table Rock for failing to protect its residents and the guilt that she didn’t rescue her mother when she had the chance. 

“I think about it all the time,” she says now. “It was the worst mistake I ever made in my life.”

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