New York Nursing Homes Now Allowed In-Person Visits; ‘Like The Skies Opened Up And Heaven Fell Down’

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New Yorkers with loved ones in nursing homes are getting good news Friday, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo revised visitation guidance.

Starting Friday, nursing home residents can reunite with their families, CBS2’s John Dias reported.

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It’s been more than a year since 85-year-old Harriet Krakowsky last saw her family in person.

“So, what has gotten you through the pandemic?” Dias asked.

“A will to live,” Krakowski said. “It’s been though, but I’m tough. And I said I have to make it through this to continue to see people, to see who I love.”

COVID VACCINE

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Krakowsky has been confined to The Hebrew Home At Riverdale – where in person visits were not allowed – and hasn’t been able to hold her newborn great-grandchildren.

“I have two great-grandchildren that I have never met. Virtually, I’ve met them. But kissing and hugging, [no],” she said.

That all changes Friday.

“I’m as happy as you can get anyone,” Krakowsky said. “It’s like the skies opened up and heaven fell down.”

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The new rules replace February guidance that required a facility to be COVID free for 14 days. Now, visitation is allowed at all times, with limited exceptions for unvaccinated residents where there is high community spread and a low vaccination rate.

“We’ve been gearing up for this for months, even though we knew that we were awaiting approval. And we’re thrilled that the approval has now come,” said Daniel Reingold, CEO of The Hebrew Home At Riverdale.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

In December, the facility was the first in the state to administer a COVID vaccine to a nursing home resident. Now, 96% are vaccinated.

They will still follow strict guidelines, like temperature checks at the gate and mask mandates. All meetups will be outside, at first.

“We’re going to start with outdoor pods,” Reingold said.

That’s good enough for Krakowsky and countless others.

“Finally, we see the real light at the end of a very long tunnel, a very hard, long tunnel. But we made it, I made it,” said Krakowsky.

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New York’s nursing home guidelines now align with the federal government’s.

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