LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Just over a week ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gave updated guidance that allows indoor visitation at nursing homes, except for a few circumstances. Following that guidance, Nazareth Home Nursing & Rehabilitation Center started allowing in-person visits in residents’ rooms for the first time since COVID-19 forced shutdowns more than a year ago.
Two visitors Saturday at Nazareth Home’s Highland location were Mary Finnegan and Ann Ingram. The two sisters came to visit their mother Marilyn Allen for the first time in her room.
“I’m just thrilled to be able to see her in her room besides behind a glass door [or] on a Skype,” said Finnegan while waiting for her sister to go through the mostly touchless check-in process, which includes a temperature check.
Ingram reunited with her mother about a month ago but it was from a distance, sitting at a long table. Saturday was the first time Finnegan got to see her mother in person, without a window between them, since the pandemic began.
As soon as they walked into their mother’s room, the two took turns giving their mom a hug. Those hugs were the first ones they were able to have with each other since the pandemic began.
“When she first started here, it was like three weeks before the pandemic hit and not only did she have to give up her independence, but she also had to live through the isolation. So it was really hard, you know, for all of us in the family,” Finnegan said.
Following the facility's visitation guidelines, their time together was only 45 minutes, but for Allen it was priceless.
“I mean I’ve lived for this day. I really have. That’s what kept you going, is that it wouldn’t last forever,” Allen told Spectrum News 1.
The 88-year-old said faith and family is what kept her going during a time that caused her to miss out on events, such as seeing new great grandchildren born. She kept in touch via virtual visits, phone calls, and window visits, but nothing replaces meeting face-to-face and being able to hug after a year of waiting.
“It’s just great to be able to see her in person and to come to her room. That’s the most important thing because, you know, family is everything,” Finnegan said.
Allen said the hugs made it feel like old times.
“It felt like the year's gone. Now, there’s just the future,” Allen said.
All visitors to Nazareth Home need an appointment prior. With six children, 20 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren, with another grandchild on the way, Allen is expected to have plenty of visitors to keep her busy.