KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri nursing homes can start allowing visitors under new rules released by the state.
But there are several requirements facilities must meet first. Visits can only happen if the facility has no new COVID-19 cases for two weeks.
Each resident may have two visitors at a time, and if the visits are in a resident’s room, full personal protective equipment must be worn. Outside visits are allowed with masks and social distancing.
“Today was the first day that I got to do a patio visit with mom and, oh gosh, I was closer than what we are now,” David Ebert said of his first face-to face meeting with his 95-year-old mother Wanda since March.
Once on lockdown this spring, visits between the two were quick phone calls that graduated to window visits.
“When I would leave, I would hold my hand up against the window, and she would hold her hand up against the window,” Ebert said of the emotional visits. “The last thing we would say to each other, ‘I love you mom.’ ‘I love you too, David.’”
Wanda Ebert lives at McCrite Plaza. It has been a very difficult time for families and staff at this and other facilities. While the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, it poses a major threat to the vulnerable population that has also been affected by isolation.
“We try to be the best family to our residents we can be, but we still are not their sons or daughters or husbands or wives,” owner Cassidy McCrite said. “What’s worse: the isolation or the virus?”
The answer to that question depends upon who’s asked.
“I think she kind of just gave up her fight since there was nobody coming to see her,” Katie Moore said of how isolation affected her mom. “It’s not like she can go socialize. Like what’s the point anymore? I really do think it contributed to it.”
Moore described her mom Caroline as an extrovert, a people person who ran the bingo games in the facility where she lived. The mother and daughter hadn’t seen each other since the end of February, and Caroline died in June.
Moore believes her mom’s health issues were made worse by isolation, which wasted away precious time other families in Missouri will now get.
“There were three months of her at least bossing me around a little bit more to to get her snacks and keep up with the nursing home gossip.” Moore said. “I kind of miss that.”
Each facility is responsible for making its own plan for how to keep people safe during visits, so it could be a while until some facilities resume visitations.