'Is this for real?': Families react to loosened nursing home visitation restrictions

Stephanie Duprey
Created: March 25, 2021 11:17 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Anyone in New York that has a  loved one in a nursing home can now visit any time with limited exceptions. The unexpected announcement that came Thursday had many in shock.

“I thought to myself, 'Is this for real?' There are so many people that needed this, we needed it so bad I just can't believe it all even happened in our life,” Deborah Labello said.

"I'm going to hug her and we have to hand sanitize but that doesn't mean we can't hold hands in between,” Jeannie Wells said. 

A facility no longer needs to go 14 days without a new case of COVID-19 in order to allow in-person visits. The only limited exceptions are for unvaccinated residents in areas of high community spread and residents with confirmed cases of COVID-19 or those who are in isolation or quarantine.

"That is huge, and then the fact that it says they must provide visitation or it’s an infraction, that is also huge,” Wells added. 

Visits will be allowed to be held in resident rooms or dedicated visitation spaces. Screening at the door and masks throughout the visit will still be required. Jeannie and Deborah say, for quality time they'll do anything.

"I said to her you know mom, when the time comes we're going to take you outside and she says, how are you going to do that,” Labello said. 

"My mother’s 93rd birthday is in two weeks so now it sounds like there should be no reason why I can't be there to be with her and the day before is Easter, this is going to be the first time families can spend, major holidays with their ones,” Wells told News10BC.

The state is still suggesting 6-feet social distancing. Rapid testing of visitors at the door in areas with high community spread is recommended but not required. However, it is clearly stated that if a county sees an uptick in positivity rate, the doors will close again.

"I want to thank everyone because you have no idea what it means to us if it goes up and we lose these privileges again,” Wells said. 

Now, this news is just as fresh to us as it is to the facilities, so bear in mind that it may take a little time for your family's nursing home to be able to accommodate you when trying to see your loved one.

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