YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard on older Ohioans. Ohio health officials now plan to reopen nursing homes and assisted living facilities to indoor visitors next month.
Indoor visits at these facilities have been off limits since March. In June, Ohio began allowing outdoor visitation at assisted living facilities and at nursing homes in late July.
When indoor visits resume Oct. 12, things will look a lot different. Shepherd of the Valley has been preparing.
“We’re building visitation stations, booths that will be made of Plexiglass and plastic to provide our resident with privacy and then to provide everyone with protection,” said Danielle Procopio, spokesperson for Shepherd of the Valley.
Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy joined Governor Mike DeWine Thursday in making the announcement.
“It is important for everyone to know that indoor visitation does not signal we can be less cautious,” McElroy said.
Visits will be limited to two people at a time for 30 minutes in a designated area of a facility, and all visits must be scheduled in advance.
It will be up to the facilities to determine if they’re ready, depending on a number of factors.
“Remember, when you enter one of these facilities, you are entering someone’s home,” McElroy said. ‘Residents, family, staff need to be even more vigilant in practicing the very basic, yet very crucial practices that limit the spread of the virus. Wash your hands, wear a mask, keep your distance, limit your visiting time, and most of all stay home if you thank that you’ve been exposed or feel ill.”
Indoor visits to intermediate care facilities can start Monday.
Some residents at Shepherd of the Valley weren’t able to take part in outdoor visits. They’re excited to have that option back.
“Summer visits sound great until you are someone with a pulmonary issue who struggles to breath when it’s warm, so I think that indoor visitation should allow for more residents to see their loved ones. I think that is something that will be a benefit,” Procopio said.