by Cori Hilsgen
For people who live in assisted living and long-term care facilities, visits from friends and loved ones are very important and help add excitement to their days.
After having been restricted from these visitations because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Country Manor/Woodcrest of Country Manor residents, patients and tenants are happy they are now able to visit outdoors with loved ones after restrictions for long-term care facilities were lifted June 18 by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Emily Frericks, the director of Marketing and Public Relations of Country Manor/Woodcrest of Country Manor, said the facilities began supporting outdoor family visits on June 22.
Country Manor has created a visitation scheduling system and assigned individuals to take reservations for family visits. This helps ensure they can maintain a controlled environment, with safe social distancing for everyone.
Designated areas have been created on campus that offer sun protection, convenient access to staff, level ground and enough space.
Staff will be screening visitors when they arrive at the designated visitation areas. Residents, tenants and patients will also be screened.
There are different guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for Country Manor’s long-term care facilities and its senior housing. The Country Manor Health Care and Rehabilitation Center and Rapid Recovery and Aquatic Center both fall under the facility’s long-term care license.
Staff will be monitoring designated areas and will be available to assist residents, tenants and patients to and from visits, as is necessary. To accommodate everyone, Country Manor is requesting families call at least 24 hours before planning a visit.
Country Manor continues to offer video calls for families that are unable to visit their loved one(s), or who may not feel comfortable doing so yet.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t first and foremost, express our sincere thanks to our residents, tenants, patients and families for their cooperation and understanding during this incredibly difficult time,” Frericks said. “We know the last few months have been challenging and we recognize the sacrifices that have been made.”
She said while it was difficult, the facility wants to let residents, family, friends and the area know Country Manor’s early implementation and adherence to a strict “No Admittance Policy” wasn’t done in vain.
“While our area has seen many positive Covid-19 cases, and many facilities have experienced significant outbreaks, we have not had any positive Covid-19 cases in any of our communities,” Frericks said. “This incredible feat is a direct result of the extraordinary diligence and dedication of our team, in collaboration with the support of our residents, tenants, patients and their loved ones. This was certainly a team effort and we are so grateful.”
She said Country Manor is often described as a “large family” and staff develop special bonds with residents, patients and their families.
“We have missed them all dearly,” Frericks said. “We were ecstatic when MDH granted clearance for us to begin allowing outdoor visits. While we strongly agree with MDH’s ruling to permit family visits, we also recognize the people we serve are still high-risk.”
She said while staff is proceeding with great caution, keeping the safety of all those they serve as their priority, they are also taking time to celebrate.
“We cannot wait to see loved ones reunite with one another,” Frericks said. “It will be special for all involved.”
During the facility’s first official family visit outside the Health Care and Rehabilitation Center on June 20, Frericks said staff cried tears of joy seeing resident Ansie Sperl engaged in a sing-along with his grandchildren, and are looking forward to many more shared moments like this.
When Sperl was asked what it meant to him to have his family visit again, he replied, “Wonderful. I can’t say enough good things about them. I love them very, very much – 100 percent.”
Woodcrest resident Mary Ann Krebsbach recently visited with her grandson Connor May.
“Seeing my grandson again was wonderful,” Krebsbach said. “I used to babysit him at my house when he was younger and got to see him all the time. It felt good and was a nice surprise.”
Tom and Dorothy Surma, Woodcrest husband and wife residents, recently visited with their daughter Peggy Fischer.
“It was very nice to be able to see our children again,” Tom said. “It’s wonderful that they opened it up. I’m glad we didn’t get the virus and it’s also wonderful nobody at Woodcrest got this virus. I can put up with not getting a haircut, but to not see my family was hard.”
Because Country Manor recognizes the people it serves are still high-risk, the facility is following and enforcing Minnesota Department of Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention direction with restricted visitations.
The following outdoor visitation policy for visitors of Country Manor Senior Housing also began June 22. (This includes the Sartell location and Woodcrest of St. Joseph).
Outdoor visits must be scheduled in advance by calling 320-253-8450 or 320-253-3343.
(A visitation schedule has been created that will allow for proper social distancing and staffing, per Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines)
Visiting hours will be during office hours.
Visitors should plan to meet loved ones outside Door #3. A staff member will be available to assist tenants as necessary.
All parties must remain masked at all times, as tolerated.
To avoid the risk of exposure, holding hands, hugging, kissing or other physical contact will not be allowed.
Groups must be four people or less, including children.
If you are experiencing any respiratory, flu or COVID-19 symptoms, you will be asked to reschedule your visit.
The facilities will set up tents to offer protection from the sun, but encourage all to wear sunscreen/sun hats.
Visitors must wear a mask, or other face covering during the entire visit unless medically contraindicated.
Visitors must be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 at the designated screening table near Door #3 before greeting loved ones.
Visitors should use the sanitization stations to sanitize hands upon entering and exiting the visitation area.
Visitors will not be permitted in the building and must remain outside.
Visitors must sign-in and provide contact information when making reservations.
Visitors must refrain from physical contact with tenants.
Visitors under the age of 12 years old must be in the control of an adult who brings them. They must comply with social distancing requirements and will be counted in the “party size.” (Limit four)
Pets must be leashed, and under control of the visitor bringing them in.
All persons must maintain six feet social distance.
Visitors must stay in designated visitation locations.
Tenants must be screened before meeting with loved ones.
Any persons with respiratory, flu or Covid-19 symptoms will not be permitted for visits.
Any persons on isolation or room restrictions will not be permitted for visits.
Tenants must wear a mask, or other face covering, as tolerated.
Visits may only be held on days when there are no weather warnings that would put either the visitor or resident/patient at risk.
For Country Manor Health Care and Rehabilitation Center and Rapid Recovery and Aquatic Center guidelines, go to www.countrymanorcampus.org/covid-update.