Some North Carolina nursing homes allowed to have indoor visits, NCDHHS officials say

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- In the state's latest order, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is adjusting nursing home visitation by allowing loved ones inside the facility.

Monday's announcement comes as the state continues to see COVID-19 metrics remain stable, according to the NCDHHS's press release.

Karen Hagen, a Raleigh local, told ABC11 the state-mandated visitation restrictions have taken a toll on her mother, Patricia Townsend, 81, who currently resides in a Raleigh nursing home.

"If ever I wondered if my visits mattered, I don't wonder anymore," Hagens said.

The Raleigh mother said Patricia, also known as "Gaga" by her grandkids, has been battling Alzheimer's for quite some time.

"Since March, and now, she's in a wheelchair. She can't walk anymore and she's barely verbal," Hagens said.

Before COVID-19, Hagens and her family would visit Gaga on a regular basis; however, that quickly changed once the pandemic forced nursing homes to lockdown. Since then, the family has settled for interactions through Gaga's window and a couple of approved outdoor visits.

"I mean, I think this is a window of time. Honestly, that's why I'm really happy to see her outside, let alone it opens and becomes available inside," Hagens said.

According to the NCDHHS, guests can enter long-term living facilities if: the facility has had no COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and if the county, where the facility resides, has a positivity test rate below 10 percent.

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Hagens told ABC11 it's an option she'll approach with caution. "Who knows what the weather will be like in November. It could be nice enough to be outside, so my choice will be, if the weather's nice, I'm always going to want to be outside for the safety of everyone."

Whether indoors or outdoors, Hagens said she'll cherish every single moment with her mother, knowing restrictions could be brought back down at any moment. "I want the staff and all the residents to be safe, that's my number one priority."

Hagens said her family will have their next outdoor visit sometime this week.
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