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Families overjoyed as in-room nursing home visits resume

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Carol and Fern hands
Carole Wise, right, holds her mom Fern's hand during a visit Thursday.

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KWWL) - The pandemic has made it very difficult to visit loved ones in nursing homes across the country.

"When we first got into the COVID situation, the notion of not being able to see each other was quite a shock," Carol Wise said, whose mom lives at Oaknoll Retirement Community in the skilled nursing unit.

Wise says Oaknoll has made every effort to help families see their loved ones; operating drive-thru visits in the spring and summer of 2020, then offering a plexiglass "chatter box" and finally a visiting nook with two rooms separated by a glass panel.

"They keep coming up with creative ideas to get families connected," Wise said while visiting her mom Fern on Thursday.

Oaknoll did briefly try to reopen in-room visits in August but the return of the University of Iowa student population ended that very quickly.

On Wednesday of this week, the facility finally resumed those visits for the first time in six months.

"It makes a huge difference," Wise said, clutching her mom's hand.

Daily new case counts for COVID-19 in Johnson County are at their lowest point since early October but a larger reason for resuming in-room visits is vaccinations for staff and residents.

All residents and staff who wanted a vaccine at Oaknoll are now fully vaccinated. Wise was also able to get her shots through a partnership between Oaknoll and Community Pharmacy Services.

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Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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