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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Assisted living communities welcome back family and friends for in-person visits

It's the first time in almost a year Homestead Assisted Living is allowing visitors to see residents without any barriers in between them.

KNOXVILLE, Iowa — This week, five Homestead Assisted Living communities in southern Iowa started hosting family and friends again for in-person visits with residents. 

It's the first time in almost a year residents will be allowed to visit with guests without any barriers in between them because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before Susan Phillips could visit with her mother-in-law Christina Phillips, she had to first schedule an appointment and once she arrived take a rapid coronavirus test. But a face-to-face interaction was a welcome sight compared to chatting from a distance.

"We've seen her, talked to her through the windows," Susan said.  "We had my youngest son's wedding so she was able to come out here and we stayed across the street, and so she was apart of the wedding picture. But yeah, it's the first time I'm actually going to be physically with her in the same room."

Once the rapid test came back negative, Susan went inside to visit her mother at the Homestead of Knoxville Assisted Living Facility. 

"It's great, I want to give her a hug and a kiss," Susan told Local 5 following the visit.

Christina, who Susan calls "mother", echoed those feelings.

"It's wonderful," Christina said. "I wanted to give her a hug but I can't. We're not touching."

One of the rules for allowing visits was avoiding lots of physical contact and maintaining distance.

But for Christina, just talking in the same room is enough.

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"We're going to sit and talk," Christina said. "We visit [really] well together. She's my daughter-in-law but we get along."

The company that operates the Homestead Living Facilities, Midwest Health, told Local 5 most residents are now vaccinated.

"This was our time and our ability to say we're looking at the evidence we're looking at what our buildings are experiencing, and we feel comfortable making this [decision] cautiously," Marketing Director Alli Ellis said. 

The five Midwest Health facilities currently allowing in-person visitors are: Homestead of Creston, Homestead of Osceola, Homestead of Knoxville Assisted Living, Homestead of Knoxville Memory Care and Homestead of Chariton.

These facilities resume in-person visitation March 1: Homestead of Oskaloosa and Homestead of Centerville. 

Watch: Complete coronavirus coverage from Local 5 on YouTube

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