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Families spend Thanksgiving with loved ones in assisted living facilities, after spending last year apart

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 9:50 PM EST
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POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. (WSAZ) - After spending last Thanksgiving seeing each other through a glass window, the Adkins family was finally reunited for the holiday this year.

“A year ago, we were living in a lot of uncertainty and a lot of separation,” Jessica Bryant, social service supervisor at Pleasant Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “This year we’re just very thankful and excited to see reunification happen with all of our families.”

Last year, the center was under COVID-19 restrictions, like many other facilities across the nation, and only end of life or compassionate care visits were allowed.

Geneva “Mawmaw” Adkins, who is from Point Pleasant, has been living in Pleasant Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for the last two years. Workers at the facility would typically wheel her over to her family’s home across the street but, once the pandemic hit, they could only see each other through glass.

“Last year we went and saw her at the window (for Thanksgiving), and it was kind of sad because we couldn’t be with her,” Gideon Arrington, Adkins’ great-grandson, told WSAZ. “Think it’s so sad where we were so close, but we knew we couldn’t talk (with) her, be with her, be in the same room--if you’re separated by a window you can’t really talk.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provides oversight and guidance for several nursing homes as to the care of those they serve, including Pleasant Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. CMS loosened their restrictions on November 12, now allowing for visitation for all residents, at all times, which allowed families’ like Adkins’ to come and visit on the holiday.

“I’m very thankful because, I love them all so much,” Adkins said. “It’s wonderful, I couldn’t do without my family, I love each and every one of them.”

Adkins was able to get real hugs from her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren on Thanksgiving.

“It wouldn’t be the same without seeing her,” Caitlyn Buskirk, a great-granddaughter of Adkins, told WSAZ. “If we didn’t get at least to come and see her, even if it’s just for a half hour, just spend time with her.”

“She’s the rock of our family for sure, it’s not the same without her,” Colleen Arrington, a granddaughter of Adkins, said. “Just glad to be here, we’ve missed her a lot.”

“It’s good to see, and heartwarming, to be able to see the reunification and how important it is to residents and their loved ones,” Bryant said. “The real heroes of this pandemic story are the patients that live here, their loved ones and the staff that are inside these four walls.”

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