COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — It’s been nearly four months since visitation at nursing homes and adult care facilities were put on pause. Family members are becoming increasingly concerned that the lack of interaction is taking a toll on the residents’ emotional and physical well-being.
Howard Hontz is a resident at Loudonville Assisted Living Residence. He said, while he greatly appreciates the opportunities to video chat with his relatives, he can’t wait to see his family and friends in person.
“They’re dying to come see me, too, ya know. It will be better than doing it through electronics,” said Hontz.
Lisa Newcomb, the Executive Director for Empire State Association of Assisted Living, said they’re proposing supervised outdoor visitation by appointment to ensure that it can be done safely with masks and social distancing.
“If we can’t make this happen, what’s likely to happen is the families will start coming and taking their mom and their dad out and then we lose total control of the safety measures,” said Newcomb.
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin said it’s getting to the point where it’s inhumane to keep families apart. He agrees the outdoor visitation is the way to go.
“If I don’t do it now when it’s warm and I can’t do it in fall when it’s cold, I’m not going a year without these folks seeing their families,” said McLaughlin.
Jill Montag, a spokewoman for the New York State Department of Health, told NEWS10 that the guidance on reopening these facilities is in the process of being finalized. She released a statement:
“As with the phased re-opening of New York’s economy, we’re developing a smart, methodical, and data-driven approach to reopening nursing homes and adult care facilities to visitation, which is especially important as we see increasing COVID outbreaks around the nation.”
Rhea O’Connor, owner and operator of Loudonville Assisted Living Residence, said once they get the green light, they’ll have a full time staff member dedicated to visitation oversight and coordination.
“We’re really looking forward to the opportunity to reunite residents with their families, and we strongly feel we can do that in a safe and responsible way,” said O’Connor.
She said they have not had a single resident test positive for COVID-19 at their facility.
“We have taken early and consistent action in our fight against this virus, and it has paid off,” said O’Connor.
Simultaneously, Newcomb said they’re hoping to get some in-house services such as hair salons back in operation soon, too.
“Tell Steve Caporizzo I need a haircut too,” said Hontz.
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