RICHMOND, Va. -- Nearly a year after nursing homes and long-term care facilities had to lockdown due to the pandemic, federal health officials expanded visitation recommendations, giving families the green light to visit their loved ones.
"It’s just so much better now. We’re excited," said Patricia Crone as she sat inside the Hermitage Richmond long-term care facility.
Four years ago, the 93-year-old Richmond native made a home at the facility, while enjoying regular visits from family.
But Crone said the last year had thrown some curveballs -- from having to be served meals in her room (instead of the dining room) and talk to her daughters through a window last Spring.
"It was very unsatisfactory," said Crone.
In the Summer, she was able to visit with family outside. Now Crone said her family was allowed indoors in a designated common area.
Not only that, Crone said she could go out.
"Oh, yeah. I drive. I have a darling little Mercedes," Crone said. "My daughter and I can go shopping if we want to.... I like to shop."
On Wednesday both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services updated their visitation guidelines for nursing homes and healthcare families.
The guidelines said indoor visitations could be permitted to nearly all vaccinated residents who do not have COVID-19.
"We see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is still there. And we have to work together to get to that light," said Chris Henderson, President and CEO of Pinnacle Living.
With nearly 99 percent of residents vaccinated at Hermitage Richmond, Henderson said they had already been able to allow indoor visitations in a designated common area for some time, but remained cautious
"We're monitoring that positivity rate very, very closely in each individual market we serve, and that's really helping dictate or drive our visitation policies," said Henderson.
With safety in mind, Crone remained optimistic and hopeful things would continue to get better.
"It’s a beautiful place to be. I’m very happy," said Crone. "You roll with the punches and you do what you have to do. And I have some wonderful friends here."