Nursing home residents can get hugs again, according to new guidelines

Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 11:43 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Many families are getting an opportunity to do something they haven’t been able to do since the start of the pandemic - hug a loved one inside a nursing home.

Revised recommendations are just coming in, and here is a breakdown of what’s changing and what will still have to stay the same when it comes to those nursing home visits.

Nursing home residents were among the first to receive a COVID vaccine. Officials say COVID cases are consistently dropping in those facilities, and that’s why the restrictions are loosening.

“We didn’t do Thanksgiving. We didn’t do Christmas. I haven’t hugged my mother in almost a year and that stinks,” Jonathan Adams-Boyles said in a January interview.

At the time, he was waiting for his parents to get the opportunity to be vaccinated at their nursing home.

“Somebody needs to get it fixed,” he said. After NBC12′s story, the problem was fixed. CVS came through on a promise to vaccinate residents at Westminster Canterbury.

Now that most nursing home residents are fully vaccinated, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that provides guidance to those facilities, is loosening restrictions.

Officials at Hermitage Richmond say they’re now removing the plexiglass that separated families from residents. That will finally allow for hugs once again.

“This year has been hard,” Chris Henderson said.

But what if a resident has not been vaccinated? If they have a terminal condition, they can now still see family as long as 70% of people living in that nursing home have been vaccinated and the locality’s positivity rate is below 10%.

“We do not want to see anyone suffering or dying alone, and if family members need to get in to be with their loved ones, we want to be able to do that,” Henderson added.

With the loosened restrictions, Henderson says it’s still important to remember we’re not out of the woods yet.

“The CDC is not saying ‘masks off, let’s have a party’…It’s too early to let our guard down,” Henderson said.

Nursing homes are still being urged to continue with sanitizing, physical distancing and wearing masks. When outdoor visits are possible, those are recommended over being indoors.

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