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Baltimore County man "elated" to reunite with his sister in assisted living facility

Posted at 11:01 PM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 23:56:01-04

WINDSOR MILL, Md. — Families are relived and elated after Governor Larry Hogan lifted restrictions to allow visitors inside nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

On Thursday, Governor Hogan issued the new order, which will open facilities that are “not experiencing a current outbreak and that have not experienced any new positive cases in the last 14 days.”

Matt Ross hasn't seen his sister, who is a resident at New Life Healthy Living in Windsor Mill, face-to-face in seven months.

He said a video chat is as close as he can get.

“It’s not the same as seeing her and all her glory," he said.

The pandemic forced her to miss Mother's Day, her son's 21st birthday and his birthday too.

“It’s been tough. It’s been tough for the whole family," he said. "Because, she’s kind of the light [and] the comedic part of the family. She’s always joking having a good time.”

COVID-19 has hit congregate care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities incredibly hard. To date, there’s been nearly 16,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths in Maryland.

“Once COVID hit, it was a big worry because I wasn’t able to go and check on her and make sure she was okay," he said.

After visitors were not allowed indoors for months, Governor Hogan said Thursday he believes it's safe enough to open the facilities back up to families because of improving virus numbers.

"I'm elated," Ross said. "I'm elated."

For Ross, he can’t wait to share a laugh with his sister. It was a long time coming. And something both of them surely missed.

“I’m going probably say something. Crack a joke and that’s just how we carry things. Just to be able to see her and make sure she is okay; it’s going to take a big weight off of my shoulders," he said.

The governor's order took effect immediately.

Here's the state's guidelines on visitation:

  • Limited communal dining.
  • Visitors must be screened upon entry, required to wear a facemask or cloth face covering, and must only be allowed access to the room of the resident they are visiting. Considerations for visitation when restrictions are being relaxed include:
    • Permit visitation only during select hours and limit the number of visitors per resident (e.g., no more than 2 visitors at one time).
    • Schedule visitation in advance to enable continued social distancing.
    • Restrict visitation to the resident’s room or another designated location at the facility (e.g., outside).
  • Additional non-essential healthcare personnel or contractors may be allowed entry to the facility, following additional precautions.
  • Allow entry of volunteers, who must be screened upon entry, follow social distancing protocols, wear a facemask or cloth face covering at all times while in the facility, and adhere to hand hygiene policies.
  • The number of persons allowed to participate in group activities, including outings, may be increased to a number that ensures social distancing requirements can still be maintained. Such activities should still be limited to residents who are not on quarantine or isolation and have tested negative for COVID-19, or who have recovered from COVID-19 and have met criteria for discontinuation of Transmission-Based Precautions. Social distancing protocols must be followed, ensuring at least 6 feet of separation between people. Residents and staff must wear facemasks or cloth face coverings. Hand hygiene policies should be reinforced.