What long-term care providers are doing to resume visits

Caitlin Rearden
February 9, 2021

CUMRU TWP., Pa. – Olive Lumb has been married to her husband for almost 68 years. He has Alzheimer’s disease and lives in a different facility than she does. She isn’t able to visit him in person, but she visits virtually.

The Heritage at Green Hills in Cumru Township set up a special meeting area with plexiglass barriers where family members can come see their loved ones in person.

Lisa and Bob Mochan visit her father once or twice a week.

“I think he really looks forward to it, and so do we,” Lisa said. “It’s good for both of us, all of us.”

Doug Walther, executive director of The Heritage of Green Hills, said such visits are possible because the facility has worked so hard at following infection control protocols, COVID testing, and now administering the vaccine. He said, however, that infection rates have to continue declining before more restrictions are lifted.

“For us here in Berks County, our conversion rates are now dropping down below 10%, where they were above 15%,” Walther said, “so we really are going to need to get further down the scale into probably below 5 before we would really consider getting people back into the community and not having to have those barriers.”

Other long-term care facilities in Berks County are also looking at options to bring back socialization for residents.

Berks Heim said two benchmarks must be met before that is possible. First, the countywide percent positivity rate for COVID must drop below 10%, and second, the facility has to go 14 consecutive days without an outbreak, which is defined as one person in the facility testing positive.

Berks Heim officials said if and when those benchmarks are reached, they can resume scheduled visits following COVID safety protocols.

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