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New invention gives family, friends intimate visit at nursing homes

Updated: May. 4, 2020 at 7:09 PM EDT
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NORTHERN KENTUCKY (FOX19) - Visitors are not allowed inside nursing home facilities right now due to the coronavirus. Some are allowing family and friends to visit through a door or window, but it can be hard to hear unless you use a phone.

A new invention that started in California is now helping bring people closer right here in the Tri-State.

“To have it go from California to my relatives in Florida and to end up in Kentucky, it should go all over the place,” Beth Skulas exclaims.

Skulas is ecstatic she gets to see her dad again.

He’s living at Seasons in Alexandria, which is a retirement and assisted living facility.

Her dad moved in after having a stroke.

Five days after moving in, the coronavirus canceled the ability for family and friends to visit.

Skulas and her family only had one visit with her dad in a six week time. They tried to talk to him through the window, but it was too hard to communicate that way.

“It was very hard not being able to see dad and especially for my mom who, they’ve been married 69 years,” said Skulas.

Husband and wife Chuck and Mary were finally able to see and hear one another.

It’s all thanks to a plexiglass cubicle that was first created at a retirement home in California.

When Skulas contacted Seasons to ask if they would be interested in having one built for their residents and guests, they were thrilled!

“We’re always looking for ways our residents and their loved ones- we want to be as creative as possible,” said Seasons Administrator Erich Hayman says. “But honestly I had nothing to do with this idea. It came out of thin air and I’m just really excited it’s here.”

When visitors come, they can sit outside, under a covered roof in chairs, and wait for their loved ones to join them.

The invention helps bring people close, physically, but safely. Staff at the nursing home clean the cubicle after each visitor.

“I know it’s touched our hearts and our family in a wonderful way,” continues Skulas, “So I’d like to see that happen for other families as well.”

Skulas says this was a group effort.

She and her three siblings paid for the supplies and brothers Tony and David Gronefeld built the cubicle following the same plans used in California.

It hasn’t even been at Seasons for a week and it’s already changing the experience for both visitors, and those living there.

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