JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — Nursing homes are now allowing visitors outside, but it’s not as simple as just showing up.
One family said their nursing home requirements are strict, so it might not even be worth the hassle. It’s all in the name of public safety, but they told CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas the rules are tough.
Window visits and FaceTime calls – since March, those are the only ways Sharon Hentsch and Sue Markgraf have seen their mom.
“When we had our last FaceTime call with her, I really thought it was the last one,” Markgraf said.
“Yeah, she was struggling that day,” Hentsch said.
Their mother, who suffers from dementia, is in hospice care at Sunny Hill – a home run by Will County. Their 81-year-old dad joins them on their visits.
“And it’s important to him to be able to be with her physically, so we were thrilled that things were going to loosen up,” Hentsch said.
The rules are two visitors at a time per resident, outside visits only, and visits by appointment only. Everyone must be six feet apart, masks are required, and visitors must complete a temperature check and symptom checklist for their visit.
Those are the rules laid out by the State of Illinois.
A phone call from Sunny Hill to residents’ families explains their visitors will also need a negative COVID-19 test result from the prior 14 days. An Illinois Department of Public Health representative said that part is the nursing home’s policy, not the state’s.
“It’s still every 14 days. We still have an elderly father that has to get there, get his results, to turn around and do that…” Hentsch said.
Markgraf added: “To just run down the street and get a COVID test, I have to factor that into my day. I have to factor that into my life. And that may seem selfish but try doing it.”
The goal is to keep residents and staff as safe as possible. Sunny Hill has had residents test positive for COVID-19 in the past.
“I think that’s a lot to ask of an 81-year-old man,” Markgraf said.
Sunny Hill also plans to cancel visits if the weather is too bad. Henstch and Markgraf said due to their schedules, the family can usually only visit on Fridays, so they are worried a stormy Friday could also complicate plans and make the 14-day test window harder to comply with.
The sisters say for now, they might just stick with their window visits.
The sisters said even though they are frustrated by the testing rule, they are happy with the care for their mom at Sunny Hill.
Meanwhile, another challenge with nursing home visits is the heat with outside visits and masks. The state said nursing homes are allowed to set up canopies for the visits as long as they’re outside.