HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — For some, families have gone almost a year without close contact with loved ones. Although getting residents vaccinated is a step in the right direction, visitation restrictions have yet to be loosened.
“Even though I call my mother every day, multiple times a day, it’s not like being there. Everyone needs and craves a hug and care from your loved ones,” said Lois Baltzley who has a family member in a nursing home.
Baltzley’s mother is in a nursing home in Carlisle. Four months ago, her father passed away and she had to tell her mother the news from a distance.
“Thankfully, one of my favorite aides was with her holding her hand but I wasn’t able to do that. My brother and I told her from six feet away with masks on,” Baltzley said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health says it’s looking for guidance from the federal government. At this point, the CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have not changed their guidance for visitation at long-term care facilities.
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This week the Wolf Administration applauded progress in vaccination efforts for long-term care facilities.
“Frankly, the providers that we represent don’t have time to celebrate and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Zach Shamberg, president and CEO of PHCA.
PHCA is calling on the state to lay out a clear plan for how it plans to vaccinate incoming residents and new employees even after the federal partnership ends.
“We’ll need to ensure that we can vaccinate not just new residents, but staff members who we hope to hire in the future,” Shamberg said.
Once the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program ends, the Department of Health says vaccinations will continue through pharmacists, local health systems, and other health care providers.