By Anna Jauhola
Although Frances Anderson has frequently visited through her window, over the phone and through email and messages with family, it felt good to see her daughters outside and in person on Friday, June 26.
Anderson is a resident at Kittson Healthcare lower level nursing home. Her daughters Roxanne Ogorek, Elaine Koop and Becky Lyberg were elated to sit down with her on the patio to visit last week. The sisters haven’t been able to visit their mother that closely since March 17 due to COVID-19, when they’re used to seeing her multiple times a week.
They said, each laughing, that the window visiting was “eventful,” but in-person is so much better.
“It’s lovely not to see her through a window,” Koop said.
Ogorek, Koop and Lyberg each wore sunglasses Friday, which was finally a sunny day. Although their faces were mostly covered by glasses and masks, they indicated happy tears had sprung to their eyes upon seeing their mother.
Kittson Healthcare has been allowing window visits for a while, but limited those recently due to guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health. Then, on Monday, June 22, the MDH released information for nursing homes to begin allowing outdoor visits.
Cindy Urbaniak, Kittson County director of public health, sent a letter to residents’ families on Thursday, June 25 to let them know outdoor visits were now possible.
“We are very happy to share this news and how these visits will be handled,” Urbaniak said in the letter. “As with all guidance from MDH, we have very specific guidance that needs to be followed when coordinating these visits. Thanks to you, our staff and community, we are managing the risks of COVID-19 well at Kittson Healthcare.”
Outdoor visits will require appointments for both the upper and lower level nursing homes. Family, friends and others can call the corresponding activities staff to schedule 30-minute visits. In the case of inclement weather, visits will not occur.
The upper level nursing home number is 218-843-2525 and lower level nursing home number is 218-843-3836. Visits will take place on the upper and lower level patio areas.
Following is a brief listing of the rules, according to Urbaniak’s letter:
A 6-foot minimum distance is required between visitors and residents.
Visitors and residents cannot have close contact – such as hugging, kissing or holding hands – during visits. Everyone must wear masks. If visitors do not have masks, Kittson Healthcare will provide them with one.
Staff will screen visitors for fever, signs and symptoms of the disease.
If visitors feel ill, PLEASE DO NOT VISIT.
Hand sanitizer will be provided at the beginning and end of each visit.
If visitors suffer a fever or have other symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of a visit, Kittson Healthcare would like to know so they can take precautions for residents.
Children under 12 must be monitored at all times. Visitors should bring their own lawn chairs. Urbaniak notes that MDH guidelines, especially regarding COVID-19, change frequently and urges visitors to be aware of that.
By Anna Jauhola