BARBERTON, Ohio — Outdoor visits are now permitted at nursing homes with strict health guidelines in place as part of Governor Mike DeWine’s plan to loosen COVID-19 restrictions for Ohioans.
However, it is up to the discretion of individual facilities to decide when they will begin allowing outdoor visits.
In late June, DeWine asked management at Ohio nursing homes to consider a number of factors before allowing outdoor visits, including the number of COVID-19 cases in the area, staffing levels, testing capabilities and nearby hospital capacity.
Residents at Pleasant View Health Care Center in Barberton will have to wait a few more days before seeing their relatives face-to-face.
“Just to make sure that we have everything in place so that everybody stays safe and so that we’re doing the right thing,” Richard Morris said.
It’s been four months since Diane Miller sat up close and personal with her sister JoAnne.
“She’s the baby. Four years younger than me,” Miller said, “I’m the oldest.”
But being forced to communicate through a window since March couldn’t truly separate the two.
“She keeps my bird feeder filled for me,” Miller said. “The bond has gotten greater as we’ve lost our brother and our parents are both gone, so it’s like all there are is her and me.”
Just down the hall, Dee Welch is counting down the seconds until she’s reunited with her three sons later this week.
“And I’m really glad that I can see them in person instead of through the window,” Welch said.
The highly anticipated reunions will begin Tuesday, one day after Governor DeWine began allowing outdoor visits at nursing homes across the state.
“It’s going to be very emotional,” Miller said. “I’m the crier in the family so I can’t wait to see her and talk to her.”
Richard Morris said the choice to hold off on the start of outdoor visits was based largely on personnel levels, and limiting visits to only four days a week the staff will allow staff more time to streamline health and safety procedures.
“Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from eight o’clock until noon,” Morris said. “Whether we increase the scheduling sometime later will depend if everything goes well and everybody is complying with the procedures that they have to follow.”
Miller is choosing to look on the bright side and said if she’s already waited four months, what’s one more day?
“I can’t wait to see her,” Miller said. “Say a prayer we have nice weather.”
Before visiting your loved one in a nursing home, it’s recommended that you call beforehand to schedule your visit. Schedules and requirements may vary at each facility in Ohio.