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After months of waiting, families ready to visit loved ones in Ohio's nursing homes

Indoor visits can resume Oct. 12
Ohio expands list of people required to report elder abuse
Posted at 10:24 PM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-25 10:39:02-04

For Ohioans with loved ones living in nursing homes, change is on the way as Gov. Mike DeWine announced indoor visits can resume Oct. 12, in little more than two weeks.

Traci Statum, who has been able to see her 79-year-old mother twice a week since the onset of the pandemic, has counted herself lucky as many families haven’t had contact with their family members in months.

“We got the call on a Wednesday,” she said. “They were locking down the nursing homes.”

Statum remembers the day the world shifted for her family and those across the state.

“Of course at the time we were told two to three weeks. That was it,” she said.

But that was six months ago. Now, she wants families to have uniform access to their loved ones. Statum joined a group of frustrated family members unable to see their loved ones, an absence they felt did more harm than good.

“I have friends who have parents in the nursing homes, too, and they were seeing drastic decline in their parents,” she said. “So, we started speaking out. We started contacting the governor. We started contacting the director of aging in Columbus. We held a protest.”

While DeWine’s latest announcement may give some families more access, Statum says it’s not enough. She’s still able to see her mom twice a week, but she knows some Ohio nursing homes are more strict.

“It’s not right. It’s not fair to leave it up to the nursing homes,” she said.

Susan White, the regional vice president of Northstar Senior Living, said people with family members in nursing homes want nothing more than to get back to normal.

“From a protocols perspective, what we’ll do is when we get the final order from the governor, we will look to see what those requirements are,” White said.

Her company, which has 50 facilities across the country including the Landing of Long Cove in Mason, is prepared to transition into the next phase, allowing two visitors for up to 30 minutes in a designated area.

“I can tell you from our company perspective, protocols have already been put in place in other states for indoor visitation,” White said, pointing to the similar practices now used in Texas.

Meanwhile, Statum said she’ll do what it takes to keep her mom close, even if “close” these days means six feet apart.

“We’ll wear the masks, we’ll take the temperature, but we need to be able to see our parents,” she said.

For more information, contact your nursing facility about their policy moving forward.