FORT EDWARD, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York nursing homes and residents are excited to get the ball rolling now that Governor Cuomo’s latest guidance announced Thursday night opens up visitation. Residents say it’s been tough to get time with their families since the February 23 restrictions which required a facility to be COVID free for 14 days before planning visitation.

Janet Siebrecht has lived in the Fort Hudson Nursing Home for five years, but she says for the first time she almost lost hope she would ever see her family again.

“It felt like this would be never ending,” Siebrecht says in a phone call with NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton. “I just finally said to myself, well, I’m just going to be locked up here forever, and I might as well say to myself this is the way my life is going to be from now on. Locked up.”

She says New York nursing home visitation restrictions forced Fort Hudson into a constant cycle — hoping to pass two weeks COVID case free, then a single exposure would start the clock all over again. Just this week, Siebrecht says she finally had her first visit in a year scheduled Tuesday with her daughter and grandchildren, until another case put everything on hold.

“I only saw her through the glass window. That’s the only way I’ve seen her [through glass] since I had to see her in a nursery when she was born, and that bothered me, I must say,” Siebrecht says sadly.

Then finally, a sigh of relief when staff told her Friday morning Governor Cuomo had made his sudden announcement late Thursday afternoon. She says Fort Hudson staff have been rushing into action all day to prepare.

“We were all tested again, even though we were tested at the beginning of the week,” Siebrecht explains.

Cuomo’s announcement says following updated guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, all nursing home visitation is open at all times and for all residents, effective immediately. There are listed restrictions that include unvaccinated residents in areas of high community spread and lower resident vaccination rates, residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, or those in isolation or quarantine.

Fort Hudson Health System confirms to NEWS10 visitation will start bright and early 8 a.m. Saturday. It’s CEO says he is very excited for the change that nursing homes like his have advocated for. A full statement reads”

Fort Hudson is very pleased that the Department of Health has updated their visitation guidance to align with the Federal requirements.  Our residents, family members and staff have been advocating for this change since the Federal guidelines were released earlier in the year. From the time the guidance was released to the media last evening (prior to providers being notified), Fort Hudson has been working continuously to update its policies in order to safely implement a more reasonable and compassionate approach to visitation.

We are excited to open for visitation beginning tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., and look forward to being part of the long-overdue reunion.  We wish to sincerely thank our residents and their family members for showing such restraint and patience during these very challenging times.

Andrew Cruikshank, Fort Hudson Health System, Inc. Chief Executive Officer

Now Siebrecht says she can hardly wait to see her daughter, grandchildren, and her husband of 53 years.

“You really don’t know how much time you do have left with each other. I have so many memories with him, and I’d like to have a few more,” she says.