LEANDER, Texas - A rare face-to-face visit took place Tuesday at a Leander memory care facility. It was the first time Amy Witte Koski, my wife, got to see her mother in person since the lockdown began back in May.
"I went from seeing my mom every single day for the past 17 years to not seeing her for weeks except for little zoom calls and stuff, so this was great to actually see her in person and sit there with her for an hour and talk, and she got to see the dogs, it made her day and mine as well,” said Amy.
To provide a COVID-19 barrier, a Plexiglas shield was placed at the doorway. With it, other families’ reunions are being scheduled.
"My mom does so much better when she has regular visits from us, prior to the pandemic we were visiting her each night,” said Michael Jordan.
On Thursday, Jordan and his family will see his mom.
"I think it will be even better for her, because she, with the technology, she struggles with that, whereas the face to face there's no technology involved, it’s a very direct interaction with us, even if we can sit there and hold hands, her ability to see the visual cues, see our body language, things like that add so much more to the conversation, I think it is going to be a better experience for her honestly, and for us too, it gives us a better way to see how she is doing,” said Jordan.
Other care facilities have organized window visits, but a feeling of isolation remains, for many, affecting mental and physical health.
"Everybody recognizes the concerns associated with visitation inside of a facility, but there has to be a pathway forward, we owe it to these people to find an acceptable pathway forward,” said Kevin Warren with the Texas Healthcare Association.
Not having clear guidance from the state, according to Warren, is frustrating.
"We know there are providers that are taking those steps, even though arguably the State could say, well under the guidance, they shouldn't be doing it, but also recognize your point too, it’s been 20 weeks," said Warren.
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Discussions with state officials have failed, so far, to find a clear place between complying with the governor's lockdown order and violating it. For Warren, it has to be more than cards, letters, and phone calls.
"But allowing outside visitation, in those facilities that are COVID free, and utilizing patio cover, utilizing some type of preventive screenings, utilizing social distancing, utilizing car parades, whatever it takes, and let's start, but we have to start somewhere,” said Warren.
For now, that starting place may be a doorway with a Plexiglas shield.
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