Ohio families now allowed to visit loved ones living in nursing homes

Ohio families now allowed to visit loved ones living in nursing homes

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Families in Ohio can now see their loved ones inside nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced last week that indoor visitation could resume on Oct. 12.

Indoor visits have been off-limits since the pandemic started in March.

Those with families in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been waiting for this day for months.

“I don’t have anything personally against Governor DeWine, but it’s about time. It’s about time,” said Donricka Whittie, whose husband has been in a nursing facility for about a year.

Although the governor has okayed indoor visitation, the ultimate decision is still up to each facility.

Facilities are not required by the state to open if they do not feel like it is safe to do so.

Harmony Court Rehab and Nursing is choosing to wait a little bit longer before allowing indoor visits.

“There’s a lot of different things you have to look at when you do the visitation and one is the community surrounding the positivity rates," Administrator of Harmony Court Rehab and Nursing, Laura Ritterbach, said. "So, Hamilton County right now is at level three, a red county, so at this point, I don’t really feel it would be appropriate because of bringing that into the community.”

Reopening nursing homes and care facilities come with strict guidelines under the governor’s order.

Visitors must make an appointment for each visit and only two people can visit one resident for 30 minutes in a designated area.

Ritterbach says it is just too much to take on right now.

“You have to look at staffing as well as PPE, what you have in the building, so you have to think about all those things as well," explained Ritterbach. "You have to be careful with the families because as soon as they see their loved ones they’re going to want to embrace because they haven’t been able to come in for so long.”

Harmony Court Rehab and Nursing is allowing window visitation, but Whittie says that is not enough.

“If they’re on their last leg getting ready to die, their family can’t go in there and be with them and hold their hand and tell them they love them," said Whittie. "It’s the person to person contact that I feel they should have.”

Whittie says not being able to see her husband face-to-face has been hard on her and her family.

“With this pandemic and the way it’s going, it’s heartbreaking," said Whittie. "I mean they cry when we leave, I cry when I leave to visit. It’s stressful it’s demeaning to everyone that’s in there because they can’t get to their family when they’re sick, we can’t get to them.”

Nursing homes must also maintain a daily log of anyone who enters the building and regularly report via the states' coronavirus website about visitation hours.

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