Area nursing homes, long term care facilities reopen to visitors

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 2:12 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 24, 2020 at 7:02 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The months-long prohibition of visitors at nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Central Texas and around the state was lifted Thursday.

Under new guidelines that Gov. Greg Abbott issued last week, nursing homes, assisted living centers and State Supported Living Centers in the state were allowed to reopen for visitation with certain health protocols in place effective Thursday.

Nicole Gray, an administrative assistant at Waco’s Ridgecrest Retirement and Healthcare, said the staff was ecstatic about the eased restrictions.

Gray said the past four months have been difficult; residents were often asking when family members would be able to visit again.

“We’re super excited that our families are able to come back,” Gray said. "

Our residents, they need their families."

Only two visitors per resident are permitted and only one person may visit at a time.

Gray said visitors must make an appointment and must test negative for COVID within 14 days prior to their visit.

Gray said she expects the testing requirement could be a challenge, because tests have not always been easy to get.

“That’s going to be the biggest obstacle, to provide that information to us that they are negative, before they come in,” Gray said.

“And of course they’re going to have to provide that each time they visit.”

Gray said visitors also need to go through training on how to use the personal protective equipment properly and how to stay safe between visits.

“It’s mainly just an educational training for our families, just that way we know they can stay safe so that way they can continue to come back and see their loved ones,” Gray said.

Visits with residents at Ridgecrest will also be monitored by a staff member, Gray said, to make sure all guidelines were being followed.

I’m just so happy to see her again

Raymond Cockrell

Meanwhile Raymond Cockrell of Bell County has been waiting for months to see his mother in the flesh, not form behind a window.

“Selfishly it would probably mean more to my sisters and I than it would mom,” Cockrell said.

While Cockrell and his sisters understand they must take COVID-19 tests and wait for the results before they can visit, it’s something that is worth the wait.

“We understand why it’s taken so long the population in the nursing homes is one of the most at risk in our state,” he says.

This week he and his sisters plan to see their mother in person, outside of the nursing home, which is now permitted under the new guidelines.

“You never know when that opportunity may come again,” says Cockrell.

“I’m just so happy to see her again.”

At Ascension Living Providence Village, officials say they are already drawing up plans for visitors.

“They are certainly working diligently to put all the processes in place,” Chief Medical Officer for Providence Dr. Brian Becker said.

Becker says it’s important that they make this opportunity available for family.

“Everyone is aware of the great need to get back in there and visit with loved ones,” he says.

“They haven’t had visitors in quite some time now and it’ll be good for everyone.”

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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