Ohio nursing homes permitted to welcome visitors indoors for first time since March

Coronavirus

CLEVELAND (WJW) – In person visitors are allowed inside nursing homes to see loved ones for the first time since March.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s order states facilities have to meet certain health and safety requirements, which include limiting visits to two people for a maximum of 30 minutes, screening for COVID-19 and wearing a face covering. 

Although nursing homes can allow visitors it does not mean they are all safely prepared to do so.

A devastating reminder for people like Barbara Bellina who learned she will have to wait a little longer to visit her 98-year-old grandmother.

“How hard is it to get a room and a couple things of sanitizer and let people walk in and see their families? It’s been a long time and I want to see her so bad just to let her know that we’re still here and we care about her,” said Bellina. “She probably thinks we just abandoned her.”

Allowing visitors indoors is not without risk, something nursing homes are working to mitigate.

“Obviously, that’s a concern for everyone but our families have just been so cooperative they realize what a privilege it is to be able to see their folks,” said Lorie White the Director of Admissions at The Good Shepherd Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in Ashland.

White said their week is expected to fill up quickly with visitor appointments. They have not allowed outdoor visitation for a few weeks due to the county’s red status in the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. White said they are also following guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and keep track of the federal positivity rate.

“I did one this morning, I actually did a nursing home visit, and I can tell you the issue is going to be following the rules,” said Donna Skoda, Health Commissioner for Summit County Public Health.

Skoda warned the public must remain vigilant especially during visits with a high-risk population.

“Because not all of the negative tests are reported in Ohio, you don’t always know how many tests are actually administered therefore a positivity rate you’re not sure about but an estimated positivity rate in Ohio is, it’s climbing back up over three again, 3.6 percent, 3.7,” she said.

“The numbers are increasing, and we have to be vigilant if we’re not vigilant now it’s going to be a horrific winter. We have got to keep this thing beat back,” said Skoda.

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