Soon loved ones can visit nursing home residents outside

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana announced it would allow outdoor visits at long term care facilities Wednesday. 

The state sent out guidance on how to properly conduct the visits.

Olivia McClellan didn’t know COVID-19 was going to stop her from seeing her father face to face for months. He’s in a nursing facility with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. 

“I can’t even pinpoint the last day that I saw him in person,” said McClellan. “I think it was sometime around St. Patrick’s Day if I had to guess.”

But she won’t have to wait too much longer. The state is allowing outdoor visits under certain criteria.

Facilities must be COVID-19 free for 14 days, have a schedule for visitors, staff to monitor them, the space to host them and proper PPE.

Visitors must wear a mask, sanitize their hands and be COVID-19 free.

Olivia said that’s all reasonable. 

“If I have to wear a mask, if I have to wear a helmet, or whatever I have to wear, I’ll put it on, I’ll be sweating, I don’t care,” she explained.

Residents have criteria too. They must be able to safely move outside and wear a face mask. People with Alzheimer’s or those expressing loneliness have priority. 

“I do think that through this, sadly, I think that his health has declined,” said McClellan. “And it’s not anything that anyone is doing, right? I think it is that lack of social interaction.”

Fred Stratmann is the spokesman for CommiCare Family of Companies. He said they are still preparing facilities to meet the requirements to open outdoor visitation. He can’t give an exact timeline just yet. 

“Certainly, we want this visitation program to happen and happen quickly,” said Stratmann. “We also want to make sure that we are keeping families in the loop because this is a sign of progress.”

A sign McClellan can’t wait to see for herself. 

“It’s going to be a whole new world for him, right? I mean he’s going to see the sun and I can only imagine what would be going through his brain that moment of kind of being set free a little bit,” she said.

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