Families return to nursing homes for first time in nearly 1 year

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Posted at 10:43 PM, Mar 02, 2021

(WXYZ) — "We can now allow visitations at nursing homes too,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her Tuesday news briefing, as she eased some coronavirus restrictions.

That one sentence is what Kamin Davis has been waiting nearly a year to hear.

“Not being able to leave a facility in a year's time is tough on anybody,” Davis said.

His mother is in her 80s and has been in a Livonia nursing home for more than seven years. After near-daily visits from family, she’s spent the last year alone.

“(Before COVID) my mom had somebody in her room everyday," Davis said. "It was an exception if someone wasn’t there.”

For the last year they've been able to visit through a window, or in some cases socially distant outside, but this new order allows indoor meetings, Their first is already on the schedule for Wednesday.

“She's elated," Davis said. "I'm sure tomorrow will be very emotional, for me and her. But I'm just happy that day is here.”

According to the American Health Care Association, cases in nursing homes are down 82% since December 20, about the same time vaccinations began. Now, the state says almost all nursing home residents have been offered a vaccine and the vast majority have received their second dose.

“If you could have seen the faces of people getting vaccinated, it was a ray of hope,” said Lynn Alexander, Chief Marketing Officer with Presbyterian Villages of Michigan.

Alexander says nearly all of their residents and staff have been vaccinated. They’ll be welcoming in two family members per resident by appointment only, and will resume some activities.

"We’ve had a lot of tears and a lot of prayers over the last year and those have now been joined by smiles and hope for the future,” Alexander said.

Hope for a future with no restrictions at all, but that goal is still likely months away. However, for families like the Davis family, those months can now be spent together.

“I'm just happy that this day is here, where we can get back in,” Davis said.

Facilities must have 14 days without a new COVID case in order to let visitors in, and visitors must have a negative rapid antigen test.