A local nursing home eases visitation restrictions

LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI)- In a year filled with isolation, restrictions at nursing homes and long-term care facilities have taken a toll on patients, family, and staff.

Many older residents have been on lockdown for one year.
And, even with safety rules, there has been illness and death, and separation.

If you have a family member in a nursing home, you know that lockdown came quickly.

Since March of 2020, family members have done their best to make sure their loved ones know someone is there.

One facility in Columbus is relaxing restrictions so families can spend time with relatives.

“It’s like it’s not real. We watched my mama die on an iPad with a nurse sitting there holding her hand. I can’t comprehend,” said Carla Pritchett.

July 19, 2020, was the last time Carla Pritchett would talk to her mother, Linda Prichett. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes restricted all visitors leaving many uncertain when they would see their loved one again.

Pritchett says it was hard to cope, especially knowing her mother was diagnosed with dementia.

“She didn’t understand what was going on. She kept asking us to come in. The great-grandkids would make her signs and take them to the window, and she still didn’t understand,” said Pritchett.

Keeping a flow of communication is what Lisa Harris is doing to check in on her grandmother.

“We were allowed to put a personal line in her room, so she answers the phone, and we can see my aunt or grandmother in their rooms on their beds. That’s as far as we can go like Facetime, calling, just smiling through the window,” said Harris.

Harris’s 91-year-old grandmother Maddie Brown and 94-year-old great Aunt Sally Brown have lived in the same nursing home since the pandemic started.

Harris says not being able to see her family is something she never thought would happen.

“I don’t think they made it through without each other. Leaning on each other and taking care of each other inside there,” said Harris.

With lifted restrictions in Mississippi, Garden Hills Assisted Living in Columbus is their changing visitation policy.

“We’re going to be a little bit cautious and probably have a visit outside because it’s always better. If we do, we will have a designated area for visitors and one family at a time with scheduling,” said Delaney.

Brandee Delaney says the facility will have mandatory Coronavirus testing before a family can visit with a patient.

“We have the rapid nasal swab test. We go ahead and test anyone before entering or visiting,” said Delaney.

Garden Hills Assisted Living has not set a date to ease its restrictions for visitors.

Families can expect those changes soon.

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