Some nursing homes in Illinois are beginning to ease restrictions allowing people to visit their loved ones indoors for the first time since the pandemic began.
Robert Hernandez said he was one of the first visitors allowed in at Sunny Hill Nursing Home in Joliet to see his 97-year-old aunt.
“It was a great experience to see my aunt who I haven’t seen that close in such a very long time,” he said. “She’s very special to all of us in my family.”
Words can’t even begin to describe the special reunion for Hernadnez and his aunt Euldalia Asa.
“She was in the dining area and I walked in and I said I’m here and she can’t see that well,” he said. “She said who and I got closer to her and I said It’s me and she said I recognize the voice.”
The two were reunited in person for the first time in over a year.
“I said I’m happy to see you, I’m sorry I haven’t been here sooner and she start smiling I’m glad to see you,” he said.
Hernandez said his aunt survived COVID and being in isolation away from family. Their only way of connecting with her during the past year was through a window at the nursing home.
“We take turns going up to the window and talk to her and now that won’t be necessary we can actually going inside the nursing home which is great news” he said.
Sunny Hill announced plans last week to ease restrictions allowing for in person visitations again.
“I guess I just happened to be the first visitor and it was good to be in her room and to walk around the hallway with her pushing the wheelchair it was a good time to see my aunt,” he said.
Hernandez said COVID restrictions are still in place, like wearing a mask and temperatures checks at the door.
“I didn’t expect that the nursing homes would allow us inside for at least another couple of months so I was very surprised,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released updated guidelines for nursing homes on Wednesday. According to the guidelines, nursing homes should allow people to safely visit their loved ones indoors, regardless of being vaccinated unless certain scenarios come up that would limit the visitations.
Hernandez said he got vaccinated to protect his loved ones, including his aunt.
“It’s my hope that we’re getting this thing under control and that everyone across this country will get vaccinated,” he said.
Sunny Hill did not respond to request for comment. Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Public Health said its still reviewing the updated guidance by the federal government.