Ohio eases visitor restrictions in nursing homes and assisted living

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – After more than a year of closed doors and restrictions, the Ohio Department of Health is easing some of the rules surrounding visitors at nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Under the order, all facilities are required to offer in-person visitation. Governor Mike Dewine says as long as a facility can safely accommodate visitors they are now required to do so. In addition to requiring visits, those visits must be a minimum of 30 minutes, the previous maximum amount of time allotted. Visitors will also be allowed to go to individuals personal rooms, as opposed to large centralized meeting centers. Those vaccinated residents are also able to make the choice to engage in physical touch with a visitor, as long as the visitor is masked.

At Elizabeth Scott Community, a family-owned facility, they plan to roll out the new order rules as soon as they receive the official guidance from the Ohio Department of Health and can find a way to do it safely.

Matt Bucher is the director of marketing and admissions. He says the past year has been a major challenge and a constant balancing act between protocols, safety of residents and being flexible in certain situations to make sure those on the inside have access to family and friends. In-person visits are happening but are in a common area and guests are asked to stay apart.

“We’re trying to balance keeping residents safe, abiding by the guidelines and being flexible with people too and there is only so much we can do,” says Bucher.

So far, the plan has worked. Cases have been low and Bucher says they have not had any residents die from COVID-19.

Rita Cark is 89 and has lived at Elizabeth Scott for nearly 6 years. She says the hardest part about the pandemic is being separated from family and friends.

“I would love to just hug everyone. I would feel good about that,” says Cark.

Cark says while she missing spreading the love, she is happy that the place she calls home has been strict with the CDC and ODH guidelines and credits the employees and the rules for keeping a majority of those living in the facility healthy.

Bucher says the new guidelines are uplifting and could be a step in the direction of getting things back to the way they used to be.

Each facility ultimately has the authority to decide when certain protocols will be implemented based on safety and COVID-19 outbreaks.

Copyright 2021 WTVG. All rights reserved.

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