MENOMONIE (WQOW) - You can now visit your loved ones in nursing homes again if they meet certain guidelines.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, also known as CMS, have updated their guidance saying facilities should allow responsible indoor visitations at all times for all residents regardless of vaccination status of the resident or visitor.
At The Neighbors of Dunn County Nursing Home, administrator Carmen Flunker said the staff called families on Wednesday to say they could visit again. Not through a window, not through a plexiglass screen, they could be right by each other's sides.
"We had visitors here within the hour of us being able to notify people and get all the controls in place and people were excited," said Flunker. "It was so great to see people. It was so great to see people give their loved ones a hug for the first time in a year. Things like that it was just a really heart warming day."
Flunker said it was last year on March 13 that they had to end visitation due to the pandemic, and that the closure has been exceptionally challenging for residents and families.
"We all got into this career to take care of people and keep people happy and it's been really hard not to be able to do that for a year," said Flunker. "We've had to focus on safety."
Denny Griffiths came to visit his wife Jane who lives at The Neighbors. He said they've been married now more than 50 years and is overjoyed to be by her side again.
"Wonderful. It's wonderful that I finally get to see her up close and personal whereas the window stuff just doesn't make it," said Griffiths.
He and his daughter still called or visited Jane nearly every day, but now they can spend time together without the barriers put in place to slow the spread of the virus.
"You can't spend over 50 years with someone and then not see her ever again. Its not good," Griffiths added.
If the resident has a confirmed COVID-19 infection or quarantining, then CMS says visitation should be limited.
The guidance also talks about compassionate care visits, saying if a resident's health has sharply declined, visits should be allowed.
And one more thing to be noted: Though this new guidance is out, not every nursing home and assisted living facility has made these adjustments quite yet.