April 09, 2021

Essex Center reopens for in-person visitation


From window visits to video calling, families with loved ones inside nursing homes had to get creative throughout the pandemic.

The Essex Center is now allowing visitors again after a long, tough time apart.Joanne Hilt, whose husband is an Essex Center resident, said the time away has been hard. \"I used to come and see him all the time and then I couldn’t. I have to admit I cried every day.\"

Hilt’s husband of over 50 years was living at the Essex Center when the deadly outbreak of COVID-19 hit the facility. During the peak of the pandemic, the nursing home/rehab experienced numerous people sick and a total of 18 deaths that were connected to the Essex Center.

After several long months of waiting, Hilt was finally able to embrace what seemed like a long-lost love. \"I know I shouldn’t have done it, but I hugged him. I did not kiss him, but I hugged him, and he sobbed a little bit. So, I knew that he did remember me.\"

With each visit, loved ones are reconnected, and the healing process begins.

According to Pauline Colegrove, whose brother stays at the Essex Center, they couldn’t be happier for the in-person visits.

\"He used to ask at the window, ‘Can’t you come in?’ I’d say, ‘No we can’t, Jerry, they won’t let us.’ So I’m hoping, you know, this gets his spirits up since we can come in.\"

Visits at the Essex Center will happen four days a week by appointment. Residents can be seen by up to two people for 20 minutes, with visitors needing to take a rapid COVID-19 test before entering the building.

Essex Center Activity Director, Beth McLaughlin, said the rapid test is a necessary precaution. \"We have been so cautious because we had it here first-hand. So, I say be cautious and we are and it’s paying off.\"

Essex Center officials said they are working hard to keep COVID-19 out of their house.


As seen on MyNBC5.

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