‘There is an end in sight,’: Family members reunited with hugs after nursing home restrictions lifted

Family members reunited with hugs after nursing home restrictions lifted

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -The nursing home and long-term care facility guidelines now allow for indoor visits regardless of their residents’ vaccination status unless there’s a confirmed Covid or close contact case.

For fully-vaccinated residents, they received some long-overdue hugs and kisses, something family members say they didn’t realize how much they missed. To visit their father and grandfather, Mr. Alfred Artigue Jr., it takes more than five hours on the road just to see him.

“He goes by Mr. Al, Al, Grandpa he goes by so many names,” said Monica Abercrombie.

When Marilyn Abercrombie and her daughter Monica heard they could hug him again if only for a short 30-minute visit, they wasted no time in making the drive.

“It’s been over a year since I’ve been able to hug him. Mine was November 3, 2020 and mine was February 16th… we were going to be here first thing Monday morning,” said the Abercrombies.

The state imposed strict visitation restrictions in March to control the deadly spread of Covid-19. Little by little, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released guidance to re-open the homes for residents and their families. Now, more than a year later, the Southeast Louisiana Veterans home in reserve can allow brief close contact for vaccinated residents.

“We have to wear the mask social distancing a very brief contact as we were able to hug and kiss him and then back off and I said well we’re gonna kiss him goodbye too so we did,” said Marilyn Abercrombie.

“It’s so uplifting to see the residents, just to see more light at the end of this tunnel,” said spokesperson Brandee Patrick. Patrick says for the veterans’ home, previously hard hit by the virus, they now have about 90 percent of the veterans vaccinated, and 63 percent of the staff.

“We’d love to see 100 percent of both residents and staff but we are cognizant that it’s a personal choice,” said Patrick.

Mr. Al was the first veteran in the home to get his shot, and also the home’s first veteran to get a hug from his daughter and granddaughter after a year.

“You don’t know how bad it is until you get it back. As I stepped in the door he’s like come here, come here, come here, so that made me start crying, and then I was waiting for my mom because well I figured she should go first, and she’s like, no go ahead, and I said I’m not waiting, I’m not gonna ask, so I didn’t, so he was ready too,” said Monica.

“I didn’t realize how much I miss the hugs I knew I did it over a period of time… then today with a hug and to see the emotional impact on her and dad to that almost sent me spiraling,” said Marilyn.

Both brought to tears by a simple hug, this mother-daughter duo says it’s what their family was missing.

“I love my grandfather dearly and I’m very close to him I think part of it was just the realization that there is an end in sight,” said the Abercrombies.

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