Tyler nursing facility resumes in-person visitation between residents, family members

Tyler nursing facility resumes in-person visitation between residents, family members
Visitation resumed Thursday for residents at The Heights of Tyler. (Source: Arthur Clayborn/KLTV)

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A Tyler nursing home has met the requirements needed in order to allow residents to have in-person visits again.

Visitation resumed Thursday for residents at The Heights of Tyler.

“We have got our Phase One approval, which means we are allowed to have outside, supervised, no-contact visits. We’ve scheduled 63 of those and six compassionate care visits tomorrow that will be inside,” said Administrator Janna Kuechle.

It was an emotional day for residents and their family members.

“It’s been a very difficult road the last five and a half months, but good people are taking care of her. Lots of love. We’ve gotten through it. And we will get through it. But today is a better day. It’s a first step,” said Brenda Olson, who was visiting her 85-year-old mother.

Olson visits her mother every day, and Thursday was the first day in more than five months that Olson has seen her mother without a partition between them.

“I usually visit her through a glass door down the hall, and we get really close to the glass, but it’s something about in person that is better,” she said.

For Olson, the visit was not only emotional because she was able to be in the same space with her mother. Olson said sometimes her mother is not fully present and sleeps through visits. Today was different.

“My mother has always, always done this — we call it her preaching mode — she points her finger and tells us things that we need to know and hear and she was doing that today, which is a great sign because I know she’s in the present, and she knows who I am, and I got a good response so I felt good about the visit," Olson said.

Dennis Yarbrough was visiting his mother, too.

“I’m glad to see her to see her as much as I can and as many times as I can. I like to see her every day. Every day that she was in a nursing home, I was here,” Yarbrough said. “To be shut out for five or six months now has been a little difficult on her.”

The visits are in keeping with all national, state and local guidelines regarding COVID-19, according to officials at the facility.

“It’s been a lot of hard work getting here. Some of our families have not seen their loved ones for six months. Today was the first time that they got to be in the same space with them without a glass window or something dividing them.” she said. “There were lots of tears. There was confusion because they don’t understand why they couldn’t be touched or held by their family, but the spirit in the building is soaring. Everyone is absolutely elated about what were getting to do.”

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