New guidance on nursing home visits is good news for families, loved ones

The CDC and Centers for Medicaid and Medicare are issuing new guidance on opening up nursing homes for visitors, as many more residents are getting vaccinated.

According to the CDC and guidance from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Service, visitation at this point can be done safely, but can be limited in cases of a known COVID-19 infection, or in a county where positivity rates are greater than 10%, and less than 70% of residents in the facility are fully vaccinated.

Dana Marie Kennedy, State Director for AARP Arizona, says this is certainly a big step in the right direction.

"I think the hardest thing has been the uncertainty, and so, this also gives us a little bit of a road map, and I think we are all open to that," said Kennedy.

News of the new guidance is certainly a relief for families of residents, who will now be able to make visits again. These centers are certainly still being cautious, as some restrictions but overall it’s a joyous day for those involved.

"We’re excited for those families and residents," said Janine Ciobanita. who operates VIP Paradise Care home in Scottsdale.

VIP Paradise Care houses just about 10 residents, all of whom have been keeping their distance during the pandemic.

"It was really tough for everybody," said Ciobanita. "The families, us, and the residents as well."

While they may now be opening, they’re doing so with plenty of caution. Ciobanita says they will be taking visitors by appointment only, and limiting the number of people inside at one time.

New guidelines pave way for reunion

The new guidelines allowed for a priceless moment to take place, as Tonsa Price Edwards embraces her mother, Mildred, for the first time in a year.

"I am just beyond joy to be able to see my mom," said Edwards.

This is something that Edwards herself has been working towards for months. She sits on the Governor’s Board for Long-term Care, and serves as a representative for families who have loved ones in these homes.

The waiting game, Edwards says, has been really tough, especially knowing that her mom was suffering from the late stages of Alzheimer’s, and does not fully comprehend where her daughter was.

"There is no way to describe how impossible this year was," said Edwards. "As I look forward, I know I can’t get that time back."

Edwards is now determined to make every day with her mom count. While her mother's mind may be a bit blurred, Edwards says their love is stronger than ever, and it will never fade.

"I don’t want to say life-changing. but it is," said Edwards. "It is life-giving."

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COVID-19 resources

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)