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MDH loosens restrictions in long-term care facilities

The new guidance will allow an essential caregiver back inside to visit loved ones.
Published: Jul. 12, 2020 at 8:22 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2020 at 11:00 PM CDT
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Minn. (Valley News Live) -

The Minnesota Department of Health is loosening restrictions in long-term care facilities.

The new guidance will allow an essential caregiver back inside to visit loved ones.

"At first it seems to be alright," Lillian Dahl says. "But as time has gone on, I'm tired of being here. I want to get out."

Dahl has been at Serenity Assisted Living in Dilworth, Minnesota for nearly two years. But she says, the last few months have felt like an eternity.

The state closed long-term care facilities to visitors about four months ago.

"There are a lot of people that have families that would love to come in and talk to them," Dahl says.

Recently, the health department has allowed window and outdoor visits with limitations. Now, even better news for families.

On Friday, the health department released new guidelines, allowing a designated caregiver into the building. It can be a family member, a friend or a volunteer. There can be more than one per family if needed.

Before these caregivers can come inside, they’ll have to be screened for symptoms and wear PPE. That means people like Dahl will be reunited with their loved ones.

“It’s just important to have that face to face interaction again. I know they’ll appreciate it,” Executive Director at the Moorhead Eventide Emily Friedrich says. “It’s a big relief knowing that their quality of life will improve. Social isolation, this will benefit that immensely.”

The new guidance will help facilities battle the coronavirus crisis as well as the loneliness these residents are feeling. Friedrich says the family members are calling and asking how they can visit.

“As much as we try to accommodate and fill the gaps, we’re not their family always,” Friedrich says. “It’s nice they’ll be returning.”

They’re still working on finalizing the new policy.

Health officials say caregivers can be turned away if they don’t follow the guidelines. Also, they’re prepared to pause the visitation in facilities where it may become a danger.

Health officials say providers should talk with residents to help designate a caregiver. Policies must be set in place no later than July 25.

Copyright 2020 KVLY. All rights reserved.

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