ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) -South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster says it is time to allow more visitors into nursing homes.
Many nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been closed to visitors since March. A change is coming soon.
During the pandemic, people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have not been able to see loved ones much. This morning, Governor McMaster called for that to change.
Governor McMaster wrote a letter to DHEC’s chairman, asking for the agency to create new in-person visitation guidelines.
He says his decision to restrict visitors back in March was heartbreaking, but it was necessary. Now he thinks it’s time to ease up on those.
DHEC’s new guidance is expected to include testing, monitoring, and communication protocols facilities must follow.
This announcement comes almost two months later than originally planned. Back in June, Governor McMaster told DHEC to start preparing reopening guidelines.
However, he took that request back almost a week later because COVID-19 cases were rising.
HarborChase is an assisted living facility in Rock Hill. The facility’s executive director, Leanne Pressley, says they are ready for this new guidance rollout.
“We are very excited,” says Pressley. “We absolutely want to get to the new norm of opening up and having our residents start visiting with their loved ones.”
In the meantime, Pressley has created the togetherness suite. The glass enclosure has become a saving grace for family members wanting to visit their loved ones but not wanting them to get sick.
”It’s just good to see them,” says Sue Nance, who has used the suite. ”I’m happy of course and I like to see them face to face.”
The coronavirus has stopped Nance and her daughter, Beth Smith, from seeing each other in person.
”We were scared of different things going on but it’s been hard. It’s been an adjustment for all of us I think,” says Smith.”
That is why the togetherness suite means so much. Not only does Smith get to eat with her mother, she knows both are protected while doing so.
”It’s nice,” she says. “It’s really nice because I miss seeing her face. It makes me feel good because you want everybody to be as protected as they can be.”
”Well it’s a good idea, because you certainly don’t want to be someone that passes it off to someone else,” says Nance.
Pressley says the team built the suite as a place where tender moments missed can now be shared.
”They can conversate and catch up and not let the coronavirus interfere with them being able to see each other,” says Pressley.
The suite is a temporary substitute for Nance, who misses the face-to-face contact without the glass.
”It’s nice, but it’s not the real thing. But, they’ve made a good effort,” she says.
Smith is ready to get back to making more memories. All she is waiting for is Nance to clear her schedule.
”If she wants us. She’s happy she’s made new friends,” says Smith. “So if she’ll give us a bit of her time, we’ll come back.”