Cuomo opens hospitals to visitors, group homes open Friday

Berkeley Brean
Updated: June 16, 2020 06:06 PM
Created: June 16, 2020 05:44 PM

NEW YORK (WHEC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a surprise waiting for everyone Tuesday, including the people who run our hospitals.

Without much warning, the governor said people can now visit loved ones in hospitals. Starting Friday, parents can get into their children's group homes. 

"We're going to allow hospitals to accept visitors at their discretion," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said as he made his major shift on hospitals at his daily briefing Tuesday. 

Visit rules are based on a "PILOT program" run in 21 hospitals in the state, none of them local. 

The PILOT rules said:

  • One visitor per patient.
  • Up four hours per day.
  • Every visitor gets their temperature checked.
  • Masks are a must. 
  • With only a few exceptions, you must be 18. 

Click here for more information on hospital visits in the PILOT program 

URMC said Tuesday it is "eager to let more patients visit in person with family members and friends. Plans have been underway to restore limited visitation, with stringent safety precautions to keep the risk of infections low as more people enter the hospital. After the Department of Health provides official guidance, we will move as quickly as we can to implement and communicate expanded visitation options. We appreciate the understanding of families, and thank our care teams for supporting patients so well and keeping loved ones in touch while in-person visitation remains limited."

A day after a protest in Brighton by parents and siblings with children in state-run group homes, the governor said they can visit too, starting Friday. 

At the protest Monday, I told you the story of Beverly Lillie. Her son, Chris, is 52, has autism and lives in a group home. 

They haven't seen each other in person since March 12. 

"So he looks at us as if - wow, you don't love me anymore," Beverly said at the protest. 

Tuesday, I joined Beverly, her husband Ron and two of their grandchildren at the place where Chris is living. Since a fire at his group home at Thanksgiving, Chris has been living at a hotel in Greece. 

"He's kind of up in that corner over there," Beverly said pointing to a window on the third floor. 

The goal to see him is Father's Day. 

Brean: "So you should be able to give him a hug, hold his hand and as long as you don't do it for more than two minutes you should be fine."

Beverly Lillie: "I should be fine. Very tearful. Very tearful. And with Father's Day coming, and us not being able to see him, it would be the best blessing of the day for us to see him."

The governor said nursing homes are still closed to visitors. When he was asked why, the governor said the risk is still too high. 

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