Massachusetts becomes 1st state to allow socially distanced visits to some nursing homes

TAUNTON, Mass. (WLNE) – After bearing the emotional weight of nearly 10 weeks of being physically separated from their most vulnerable loved ones amid a deadly pandemic, family members could soon be allowed cautious visits to elderly residents in some nursing homes in Massachusetts, the first state to loosen its protective guidance.

As of Wednesday, families in the Bay State may be able to see their loved ones in privately owned nursing and long-term care facilities, as long as they are outdoors and there are no more than two visitors at a time.

Visitors also must be screened for fever, wear a face mask for the duration of the visit and must remain at least six feet away from the resident, among other precautions like having an infection control specialist on hand, according to the state’s guidelines.

The loosened restrictions do no apply to state-run facilities, and are not mandatory for private facilities: they can decide when to reopen their doors to visitors.

At facilities that are re-opening to visitors, families are eager to see their loved ones.

“You’re so used to seeing your mother all the time, and then the next thing you know, you can’t see her. It was awful,” said Kathleen Simpson. She hasn’t been able to see her mother at Marian Manor in Taunton since March.

On Wednesday, they finally reunited face to face.

“I was happy. My mother was crying,” said Simpson.

Michele Graham’s mother lives at the Life Care Center in Raynham, which is also allowing visitors.

“She was really excited to see me,” said Graham.

Graham said her mother contracted COVID-19 in January, but it was a mild case and has since recovered. They haven’t been able to see each other in three months. Graham came to the visit with presents since she missed her mother’s birthday in April.

“I brought a top that I bought for her, a watch which she wanted in the worst way, so she was thrilled to get that, and a Mr. Good bar!” said Graham.

All visits are scheduled by appointment only.

Categories: Coronavirus, Massachusetts, News, Regional News