Families, elderly residents visit outdoors at hospital

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When the New York State Department of Health began to allow families to visit with relatives in nursing homes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the staff of Rome Memorial Hospital’s Residential Health Care Facility came up with a creative solution to meet the state’s restrictions on such visits and help to keep its residents — and visitors — safe.

The nursing home arranged for these visits to take place outside — under the protective cover of the hospital’s Bartlett Wing.

The outside visits allowed for the social distancing required under the state guidelines but also allowed families to reconnect with elderly loved ones amid summer breezes, colorful flowers and some fluttering feathered interlopers.

“Although families have been able to connect by phone or see each other virtually, it’s not the same as being able to see each other face to face,” said Director of Activities Megan Absolom. “It’s a joy to see the residents and their families laugh and smile even as they long to share a still forbidden hug.”

Protecting residents remain the number one priority, so proper precautions must still be stringently followed, Absolom emphasized. To maintain social distancing, the staff schedules visits at 15-minute intervals with two family members at a time. Everyone is required to wear masks. Although residents and families prefer to be outside in the fresh air, RHCF officials said, the nursing home has submitted its plan to the state to resume indoor
visitation in preparation for the change of seasons, Absolom said.

Families may contact the activities office on Mondays to schedule their visit for that week. Located on the third floor of the hospital, the 80-bed nursing home provides long-term care, short-term rehab, and respite care.

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