Northlanders Visit Loved Ones in Nursing Homes

For months, restrictions have prevented visitors at group care facilities in Minnesota like nursing homes, but now, Northlanders are allowed to visit their loved ones in a limited fashion.

DULUTH, Minn. – For months, restrictions have prevented visitors at group care facilities in Minnesota like nursing homes, but now, Northlanders are allowed to visit their loved ones in a limited fashion.

For weeks, Richard Smith and his wife Ronene have been regularly traveling more than 100 miles from their home on the Gunflint Trail outside of Grand Marais to visit his mother Gladys at Keystone Bluffs Assisted Living Facility in Duluth. They became used to only seeing her through a window screen, but now, the couple can see her face to face.

“It’s great,” said Smith, visiting his mother Gladys. “You mean, you get to see her. You get to hear her and she gets to talk more freely about some of her concerns. We can see her smile if she’s not wearing a mask but we can see on her face that she’s smiling.”

Since the middle of March, family members, entertainers, and even doctors weren’t able to go into the assisted living facility. Only caregivers who work there were allowed into the building unless it was an emergency or an essential service.

Keystone Bluffs leaders are now trying to renew connections for residents with their loved ones. That’s why they created a safe space outside for those in-person meetings.

“So this is a huge thing for our residents to be able to see our families,” said Natalie Zeleznikar, CEO of Keystone Bluffs. “They want to hug them, they want to hug them. It’s hard enough to not see your family but one step closer to a hug is what I tell people with outside visits.”

Family gatherings in Minnesota care facilities still have some strict rules besides having to take place outside. Guests and residents are also required to wear a mask unless either of them has a hard time breathing when wearing one.

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