CHICAGO (CBS) — The power of a simple touch – it’s been an impossibility at Illinois nursing homes during a year of pandemic precautions.
But now, vaccinated residents can finally get a hug.READ MORE: Chicago Undercover Police Officer, Sergeant Honored For 'High Level Of Professionalism'
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey has been following the restrictions at nursing homes for weeks. She spoke with many families over the last few weeks who were frustrated that even though their loved ones had been vaccinated for weeks or even month, they still couldn’t visit or even hug them.
Finally, the state is updating their rules – and families said the updates will be life-changing.
Curtis Redmond is in a long-term care facility, His weekend dinners with his big brother Richard stopped abruptly one year ago – no more trips home, no more visits.
“They had to stay in their rooms, four walls, and only allowed to walk the halls at given times,” Richard Redmond said.
That is why a quick touch between on the patio of Curtis Redmond’s West Side nursing home Tuesday was poignant.
“I had never been able to touch him like you saw today,” Richard Redmond said.
This happened thanks to updated guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health, which we’ve asking about for weeks.
Richard Redmond has too.
“I have been in touch with the governor’s office asking when the changes coming. I’d been in touch with IDPH and CDPH – when are changes coming?” he said. “So today my prayers been answered.”READ MORE: Naperville District 203 Among Suburban High Schools Dealing With Spikes In COVID-19
The guidance for the very first time allows indoor visitation for fully vaccinated residents.
“I think it needs to be clear – we’re not out of the woods yet,” said Ron Nunziato, chief executive officer of Extended Care Consulting.
Extended Care Consulting oversees 20 long term care facilities in the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana areas, and Nunziato said these updates have been long-awaited.
“There can be some physical touch and embracing, so to speak,” Nunziato, adding that it is “absolutely” incredible to think some people in long-term care facilities have been without such contact for a year.
“We’re very pleased to be able to open this up and allow this very much-needed and much-wanted visitation by our families,” he said.
It is possible that these allowances could be revoked if infection rates rise again. But Richard Redmond said it brought his brother one thing for certain – hope.
“He can now look forward to going back to what he has always been used to,” Redmond said. “That is so important.
New residents who are vaccinated also no longer have to quarantine for two weeks upon being admitted.
The state guidelines also said that visitation should be “person-centered.”MORE NEWS: Loretto Hospital Gets COVID Vaccine Again, Following Controversy Over Non-Eligible People Getting Shots
While infection control has always been top-of-mind, the new guidelines specifically say facilities should consider the residents quality of life with their visitation policies.