EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – For over a year, Wisconsinites living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have had limited contact with loved ones. First News at Nine’s Maria Blough is taking a look at what changes are coming to these communities.
As of Monday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services says nearly 60 percent of Wisconsinites 65 and older have completed the vaccine series.
As vaccine rollout continues, the CDC and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services updated their guidelines for long-term care facilities.
Robin Wolzenburg with LeadingAge Wisconsin said these changes are bringing back hugs.
“With those guidelines it still means the social distancing and the masking, but that means we can have more in-person visits,” Wolzenburg said. “We can have even touch visits and close contact visits for those residents who have been vaccinated.”
At HeatherWood Assisted Living and Memory Care in Eau Claire, residents completed the vaccine series at the beginning of March.
Now with a roll back on some restrictions, HeatherWood administrator Mike Phillips said it’s making a huge difference.
“It’s really opened up, and it’s really changed, really changed the atmosphere here,” Phillips said. “The families are just ecstatic. They are over the moon. They can finally hug mom or dad again, so it’s been really heartwarming.”
Phillips said now residents can meet with loved ones in their own rooms allowing for more personal visits.
It’s still going to take time for things to return to normal, but for those in assisted living and long-term care, it’s a step in the right direction.
AARP Wisconsin said across the state different facilities may or may not be able to ease restrictions just yet. They recommend calling to find out the specific protocols of a facility before visiting.