UTICA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — It’s been almost two weeks since nursing home visitation guidelines were relaxed, but that doesn’t mean people have been able to see their loved ones again because the current restrictions come with another set of challenges.
Jill Harris, who first spoke to NewsChannel 9 in July, says her 93-year-old dad lives at Masonic Care Community in Utica. While nursing home visitation guidelines have eased up, Harris is still struggling to see her father.
“Right now, I have to get a negative test, I have to wait for results, I have to make an appointment, and I have to hope all those things mesh so I can see my dad,” Harris said.
The new guidance for nursing homes to allow visitors requires zero active COVID-19 cases inside the facility within a 14-day period. This is a two week decrease from the state’s previous 28-day requirement, but the added piece to the puzzle is getting a negative COVID test before visiting.
“The testing is new. So, right now we’re only on window visits because we haven’t had a 14-day period without a positive test,” Harris said. “There’s really no places for us to get free tests, so we’re going to have to pay for a test. And they’re doing rapid testing for sports teams, they’re doing saliva testing, something like that seems to be more reasonable.”
Jill Harris also wants everyone to know while the rules have loosened up, the isolation that loved ones are experiencing is still there.
Harris said, “He’s deteriorating, obviously. And 14 days to him, tomorrow isn’t promised when you’re 93, seems like an eternity. So I keep telling him, 14 days Dad, 14 days…how much of that he understands because he does have memory issues and they seem to be getting worse, I’m not sure.”
Harris says she’ll do everything she can to see her dad before she has to say goodbye.
“He’s still there…and hopefully, he’ll be there tomorrow,”– Jill Harris
Visitors must also undergo temperature checks, wear face coverings and socially distance at all times inside a nursing home. Also, there can only be two visitors at a time for each resident and anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited.