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Sundale welcomes visitors for first time in three months

For the first time in three months, family and friends of Sundale Rehabilitation and Long Term Care residents are now able to do something they have not been able to do: Be in the same room with loved ones.

But it’s not without restrictions and COVID-19 safeguards in place.

For this to happen, a nursing home must have gone 14 consecutive days — starting June 3 — with no new cases of novel coronavirus, the state Department of Health and Human Services said.

Other stipulations under Phase Yellow of the state’s nursing home reopening plan include no one under the age of 12; two-visitor limitation; time limitations at the facility’s discretion, and visitors must wear a face covering as a minimum, use proper hand hygiene and maintain six feet of social distance. There are also no room visits.

Besides its two Plexiglas booths — built by City Neon in Morgantown — Sundale is allowing visitors to meet residents in the dining area, said Carl Shrader, Sundale’s medical director who is also a WVU Medicine physician. Visits are now scheduled 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week and people need to call ahead to schedule a visit.

All visits are blocked out for an hour but in actuality are 45 minutes because of the time it takes to move the resident to the facility dining area, he said.

“When they arrive here, they go through an infection protocol,” Shrader explained. “They are asked basic questions like whether they have symptoms or have been around someone who has had COVID.”

Once that is completed, the person’s temperature is taken and he or she is then masked and gloved. If the individual does not want to wear gloves, then hand hygiene is an option. Social distancing is maintained for all inside visits, Shrader said.

Sundale has been allowing outside visits since the beginning of the month since it took delivery of its first Plexiglas booth from City Neon. A second box was delivered to Sundale after the husband of a resident donated the materials.

“The booth visitation has been healthy for morale,” Shrader aid. “They even bring ice cream to share.”

The state said any facility that has 14 consecutive days without a COVID-19 case and no substantial community spread will advance to Phase Green.

In this phase, visits are by appointment only and must take place at a facility designated area. There are no room visits either.

Time limitations still can be imposed by the facility, the state said. There are no age restrictions. Visitors must still wear masks or gloves and use appropriate hand sanitation.

To keep Sundale clear of COVID-19, all staff members will be rescreened at the end of the month, Shrader said. The patients will be best tested for the virus in mid-July, he added.