New Hospital Visitor Rules Hit Hard on Patient Families

The sister of a woman with a critical brain injury worries she doesn't understand why her family can't be there

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Hospitals in San Diego stopped allowing visitors weeks ago. It's to contain the spread of COVID-19, but it's excruciating for families of patients with life-threatening injuries.

Less than 24 hours ago, a young mother of three lay on an operating table inside Sharp Coronado Hospital, while a neurosurgeon reattached part of her scalp. The operation went flawlessly, but the Normal Heights woman, who can no longer talk or eat on her own, spent the night holding the hand of a nurse - not her loved ones.

NBC 7 has been following this story for four months now.

You might remember, then 25-year-old Kerri O'Farrell was walking a dog across Adams Avenue, on the corner of 34th Street, when a car struck her - killing the dog instantly.

At the time, doctors told her family she would likely never open her eyes again.

O'Farrell has come a long way since then, not only are her eyes open, she can (with great effort) move her legs, arms and hold her head up.

But motion-control is a different story.

Things we take for granted, like brushing our teeth, O'Farrell still struggles to re-learn.

She has physical therapy three times a week, but her sister, Kimberly, says she isn't as responsive without her family there.

To stay connected, Kimberly and other relatives FaceTime with Kerri often, but it's not the same.

"It makes me wanna cry really," Kimberly said. "I get it. I understand. I don't want to compromise anybody's health, but like when I see her, it makes me sad because I don't think she understands what's going on."

GoFundMe account set up to help cover O'Farrell's hospital costs has surpassed $11,000.

Criminal charges were never filed against the driver who police say has been cooperative with the investigation since the night of the crash.

NBC 7's Ashley Matthews spoke with two businesses owners who are taking pedestrian safety into their own hands -- or hooves.
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