Families prepare to see loved ones in skilled nursing facilities in person as restrictions eased

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Families of loved ones who are in long-term care facilities are reacting to the news that they will be able to physically see one another in person again.

NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen made the announcement Monday that skilled nursing facilities could resume in-person visitation with many restrictions including the requirement of visits being outdoors.

“We’ve been trying to find this balance of protection, but also recognizing that this visitation is part of living a full and complete life. So, we are trying to find that balance here with allowing for outdoor visitation,” Cohen said.

For months, families have had to rely on FaceTimes and Zooms due to the pandemic.

For folks like Amber D. Roland, whose grandmother, Lena Plummer, lives at Jacob’s Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Madison, this brings some excitement and worry.

“She actually got moved down to Raleigh, because she contracted COVID,” Roland said.

Roland said she contracted the virus while at Jacob’s Creek.

As Roland and her family wait for her to be transferred back, they’re holding on to hope of seeing her in person.

“Families haven’t been able to step into these facilities and lay eyes on their loved ones and be able to advocate and push for the care that they deserve and the care that they are entitled to,” Roland said.

The hardest part about not getting to see their loved one in person since May is how detrimental it can be to the resident’s mental health.

“It’s been so long that she’s actually seen anybody in person that it’s really taken a toll on her memory. She doesn’t seem to appear to know who we are anymore,” Roland said.

That’s why Pennybyrn in High Point, is starting its in-person visitation next Thursday, but only for a select group.

“Psycho-social or physical decline and just really need those visits just as a priority — everyone needs those visits, but really those that have had a decline over the last six months since this restriction has been in place, making those our priority,” said Vonda Hollingsworth, VP at Pennybyrn Retirement Home.

Rules at places like the Woodland Hills Center in Asheboro, include having pre-scheduled visits starting Tuesday and will require temperature checks, face masks, social distancing and more.

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