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Families use wireless technology to help with safe visits at senior care facilities

Posted at 6:17 AM, Jun 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-10 06:17:38-04

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — Terri O’Reilly made a promise with her mom years ago and she’s kept that promise for the past two years, while her 86-year-old mother, who has dementia, stays at cardinal court care center in Strongsville.

“She had always said when she was younger please always get my hair done and please don’t leave me here alone and I’ve taken that to heart so it’s important to me,” O’Reilly said.

But O’Reilly says it’s been impossible for the past few months to keep that promise after the state banned in-person visits at assisted living and intermediate care facilities, and at nursing homes. Patients at those facilities making up at least 70 percent of coronavirus deaths in the state.

“There’s always looking ahead to the future and expressing mom can’t do it today but we’re going to be able to,” O’Reilly said she tells her mother.

For some that day has come as Monday’s state order granted outdoor visitation at intermediate care and assisted living facilities. Nursing homes are not included.

The order making it possible O’Reilly to finally see her mother face-to-face.

Administrator Kimberly Wilfong with Cardinal Court Alzheimer’s Special Care Center adamant about complying with state guidelines. They are allowing families to clearly communicate with their loved ones through Eversound technology, using a headset and microphone for everyone to wear while sitting while staying six feet away. Wilfong says they only allow 26 weekly visits are during designated hours. In addition, only two guests are allowed during each visit. Now children are allowed.

“They have to fill out a covid screening tool and then temperature checks, hand sanitizing. They have to wear a mask. Our residents have to wear masks too and we’re obviously checking their temperature,” Wilfong explained. “A manager is actually staying in the room and ensuring that social distancing is being met.”

“They are able to have that contact and have that physical visit without jeopardizing their safety.”

O’Reilly and her mother are still getting used to this new normal, but they’re happy to reconnect in person twice a week.

“This is awesome,” O’Reilly said. “I had four children and for nine months four times in my life I gave up a lot of stuff. I can certainly do this and get through coronavirus for my mom and give up the hugs and give up the face to face inside the same room.”