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Northeast Ohio Long-Term Care Facilities Begin Allowing Visitors Outside

Some of Ohio's long-term care facilities began outdoor visitation Monday.

After nearly three months, residents in assisted living facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities can now visit with their family members outdoors.

“This is such a sweet day, in my mind,” said Nancy Sutula, Vice President of Residential Services at Menorah Park in Beachwood. “Residents are finally being able to physically see their family members and spend some quality time with them.”

Per state guidelines, residents and visitors are required to wear masks and take social distancing measures. In addition, visits must be scheduled ahead of time.

Sutula said staff members have also asked family members not to touch or hug the residents.

“It’s out of an abundance of caution that we’re just putting these things in place,” she said. “This is all new for the whole state of Ohio, and I think as we look and make sure there’s not a spike in COVID that happens after this initial wave of visitation, maybe there will be some looser guidelines for visitation going forward.”

Rose-Mary intermediate care facilities have also implemented precautions. Executive Director Gina Kerman said the company houses 87 individuals with developmental disabilities in various locations in Cuyahoga County.

“Life got real boring for a lot of us over the past couple of months,” Kerman said. “[The residents are] very excited to see family when they come.”

She also said staff members will encourage loved ones to socially distance from the residents, but that’s easier said than done.

“It’s really up to the families and the guardians to provide that barrier so there’s no transmission of anything,” she said. “We worked really hard to keep it out of our homes for the past two and a half months, so it is very scary opening the doors up knowing that it hasn’t gone away yet.”

Kerman said a few family members were visiting residents Monday, with more visits scheduled throughout this week.

Sutula said about 50 families visited across Menorah Park’s three assisted living buildings Monday.

“You could just tell, [the residents] kind of had a little bit more of a spring in their step as they were coming in from those visits, because it really kind of boosted their morale to be able to see their family members again,” she said.

Visitation restrictions have not yet been lifted for nursing homes.

The closure of long-term care facilities to visitors was put in place by Gov. Mike DeWine March 12.

Copyright 2021 90.3 WCPN ideastream. To see more, visit 90.3 WCPN ideastream.

Anna joined ideastream in 2019, where she reports on health news for WCPN and WVIZ in Cleveland. She has also served as an associate producer for NewsDepth. Before that, Anna was a 2019 Carnegie-Knight News21 fellow at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.