LIMA — For the first time in nearly five months, nursing home residents were allowed to see their loved ones face to face on Monday, when outdoor visitations resumed at long-term care facilities. They had been locked down from guests since March to protect residents from COVID-19.
Otterbein Senior Life in Cridersville was among the first Ohio nursing homes to resume outdoor visitations. The facility is screening visitors for fever and other COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival in compliance with the Ohio Department of Health’s guidelines.
Residents may only see two people per visit, which should be requested in advance.
Visitors and residents alike are required to wear facemasks and remain 6 feet apart, otherwise residents will be quarantined and tested for COVID-19 to ensure the virus does not enter the facility via visitors.
Ohio reported 1,236 new COVID-19 cases on the same day it allowed nursing homes to resume outdoor visitations.
Erika Harman, executive director of Otterbein Cridersville, said she’s always concerned the disease will make its way into her facility, which has reported five resident and six staff cases since April, according to Ohio Department of Health data.
But there were no active COVID-19 cases at Otterbein Cridersville as of last Thursday. Harman said it’s possible to treat positive cases without spreading the disease further when proper sanitation and personal protective gear are used.
“If we have active COVID (cases),” Harman said, “we’re not going to do any visiting.”
While outdoor visitations at assisted living facilities were permitted as early as June, nursing homes were required to wait another six weeks before allowing visitors back onto their properties.
And some facilities, such as Lima Manor, are not allowing outdoor visitations quite yet.
Abbey Lang, director of business development for HCF Management’s northern Ohio region, which manages Lima Manor, said that some of HCF’s skilled nursing facilities have not yet met the criteria to allow visitation. Families and the public will be notified when that changes.
In the interim, HCF facilities have been using video calls and window-side visits to keep residents engaged with their families.
“Even though they haven’t been able to see each other in an outdoor visit,” Lang said, “we’ve tried as much as we can to still engage them with their families. Everyone’s still very excited.”