Granddaughter visits grandmother in East Texas nursing facility after year of pandemic

Texas Relaxes Long Term Facility Rules

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - It’s been a year of virtual visits and isolation from loved ones for residents in Texas nursing facilities.

This week residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are now allowed in-person visits with family members and friends, who are not designated essential caregivers.

“Hey Nana. Oh, I’m going to cry. How are you?” Lexi asked her Grandma Judy for the first time in almost a year.

“I’m okay,” Judy said, and then the two embraced.

Lexi said the last time she saw her grandmother in person was around April 2020 because of COVID-19, but that changed today.

“When I got to walk back here to see her it was emotional and it was overwhelming just because it’s been awhile since I’ve actually been able to be in person with her and sit and have an actual conversation,” Lexi said.

The two were used to visiting each other almost daily, Lexi said, prior the pandemic. During the last year they’ve been able to FaceTime and talk on the phone, but their reunion was still filled with conversation.

“Mom told me you were watching the basketball game the other night,” Lexi said.

They talked about family, school, and Judy’s spa visit. After not seeing Judy for almost a year, one of the first things Lexi noticed, “The first thing I told her when I saw her, I said, ‘Oh your hair looks so good. It’s gotten so long since I saw you last,’” Lexi said.

“They cut my nails,” Judy said. “You painted them? Yeah. Yeah they’re pretty.”

Judy said the last year has been hard. Many of her words were shared with her granddaughter but Judy had this to say about the visit, “It’s made me feel good.”

They continued to talk and share memories. “Well I’m glad I finally got to see you… in person,” Lexi said to her grandma. Quietly, Judy responded, “Me too.”

Amanda Sitton, Regional Director of Business Development Stonegate Senior Living said families can expect to get updates on the new visitation policies at their facility in the next week, as they are still finalizing them.

“We progressed from not being able to have any internal visits, then we went to having essential care giver visits, and then currently with the latest restrictions we have more access for our families to see their loved ones. We’re really, really excited about that,” Sitton said.

In order for the visits to happen in Texas nursing facilities there are some updated visitation rules.

According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, Texas nursing facilities can now allow close/personal contact during any visitation for fully vaccinated residents. Outdoor visitation at all facilities, even when the facility has an outbreak, up to two essential caregivers at the same time to visit a resident with any COVID-19 status and all visitation without time limits, while adhering to infection prevention and control measures.

The facilities no longer need to request general visitation approval from HHSC, monitor visits or escort visitors to and from the visitation area, limit indoor visitation to areas with a plexiglass barrier or booth, or require documentation of a negative COVID-19 test result for essential caregiver or salon services visitors.

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