KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Following Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s announcement on Wednesday, nursing homes and assisted living facilities will be allowed to welcome back visitors on Monday.
The staff at Renaissance Terrace Assisted Living in Knoxville is currently working on a plan to reunite residents and their loved ones safely. Senior Citizens Home Assistance Service administrator Pat Benn says the plans for the facility align with the state’s guidelines including a very important step that they have already completed: testing.
Benn says all staff members and residents were tested for COVID-19 on June 1, and all had negative test results.
Staff members have been taking the necessary sanitary and safety precautions by getting their temperatures checked, answering a questionnaire, and washing hands before they start their shift, a routine that they perform daily and expect guests to do before their visit.
As of now, Benn says they are planning to hold visits outside in their courtyard, filled with marked areas to promote social distancing. Guests will be required to wear masks and there will be a limit on the number of family members who can visit (Benn thinks around three people). Guests will also have to make appointments and there will be set visitation hours.
As for room visits, the plan gets a little tricky. Benns says, “if they are allowed inside, they have to show us proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours.” The difficult part is mandating as they are trying to workout if that is before each visit or a one time test so for now, Benn says they are planning to hold visits outside.
Regardless of the changes, residents and staff members are excited to allow guests to come for in-person visits.
“I was coming out through the dining room today and one of the residents looked at me and said, ‘Is it true are we really opening?’ and I said, ‘yeah,’ Benn says with a smile on her face “‘It’s going to be different and a little limited, but yeah you’ll get to see your family.’ and she just welled up and I welled up too because we are super stoked.”
The limited contact with family has been the toughest part of the pandemic. However, they “have been extraordinarily blessed” as Renaissance Terrace shutdown before they were mandated to, allowing their residents to socialize amongst each other and with the staff.
While some socialization has fared their residents well, being able to reunite with their family in-person without being separated between the lobby glass window is everything.
Benn says they will update families Friday about their plan for visits on Monday, and the safety precautions they will have to follow.
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