After one-year, long-term care facility residents can visit with loved ones indoors thanks to new guidance released by the California Department of Public Health.
“This is such an exciting day because it’s been really, really difficult,” said Rick Burritt, while visiting his mother at Merrill Gardens at Bankers Hill, a retirement home. “One week from today will be exactly a year that my dad passed, so it’s been a rough year.”
Burritt and Marryanne Dersch told NBC 7 they moved their mother, Barbara Joan Burritt, from Bakersfield to Merrill Gardens at Bankers Hill about five months ago.
“It was kind of at the height of COVID and the height of fear,” said Dersch.
It was unclear when the family would be able to reunite together again.
“We facetime every day,” said Dersch.
“Thank heavens for computers!” said Barbara.
But nothing beats seeing each other in person.
“I can touch them!” laughed Barbara, as she held on tight to her two kids.
Dersch flew into town from Cypress, TX Saturday night, just in time for the CDPH to loosen visitation restrictions at congregate living facilities. Families can now schedule visits inside resident's rooms, after temperature checks and health screenings if residents are fully vaccinated, like Barbara.
“We’ve got baseball games to look forward to and restaurants,” said Rick. And Dersch said she’s excited to take her mom to a craft store so that they can work on a project together during Dersch's week-long visit in San Diego.
But first, it’s dinner as a family Saturday night, with Barbara’s two grandkids too.
“It’s been about a year hasn’t it?” Barbara asked Rick, as she reflected back on the last time they shared a meal together at the same table.
When asked if she’d have enough energy to keep up with night’s festivities, Barbara answered, “Absolutely!! I can sleep all day tomorrow!”
Staff at Merrill Gardens told NBC 7 nearly all their residents are fully vaccinated.
They have their third and final vaccination clinic on-site Wednesday and have a festive day planned with residents and family members to celebrate the milestone.
According to CDPH, senior care facilities can adjust visitation guidelines according to their specific needs, but failure to facilitate reasonable visits is considered a violation of resident's rights and can result in a citation.