Fully-vaccinated grandparents, seniors can reunite with loved ones

‘I have really missed the hugs with the older ones and the cuddles with the little ones’

ROANOKE VALLEY, Va. – This weekend, 68-year-old Vicky Chapman is going to do something she hasn’t in a year: hug her grandkids.

“I have really missed the hugs with the older ones and the cuddles with the little ones,” said Chapman.

Chapman and her husband Wayne have five grandchildren who live nearby. The two oldest are celebrating their birthdays this weekend. Parker is turning 16 and Eli is turning 13.

Now that Chapman is fully vaccinated and the CDC gave the go-ahead, she’s going to hold them tight.

“We’re going to be able to give them hugs which we haven’t done in the last year,” said Chapman. “It’s the most normal thing we’ve done in a year.”

Last year, the boys’ birthday party was the family’s last hurrah before the pandemic.

Since then, it’s been a lot of hiking, backyard visits and Christmas on the deck.

“Didn’t have them come over and spend the night so parents could get away and that kind of thing,” said Chapman. “And for the younger ones, we just haven’t had them here.”

At Richfield Living, 83-year-old resident Lowell Stultz hasn’t seen his wife Nancy in person in a year.

She’s starting to suffer from dementia and lives in Richfield’s long-term care facility, so the two have only been able to do video calls.

Now that they’re both vaccinated and Richfield hasn’t had a COVID-19 case in over two weeks, the two will be reunited this week.

“She lost her roommate and I almost lost her. So I feel very fortunate,” said Stultz.

Richfield is opening up its doors to visitors on Monday, March 15. Even though the timing coincides with the new guidelines, it’s not because of them.

CEO Cherie Grisso said it’s because more and more people are getting vaccinated, fewer cases in the community, and Richfield doesn’t have any COVID-19 cases.

The facility is still finalizing details, but families will be able to visit their loved ones for a short amount of time, indoors, while wearing masks and social distancing.

“It’s giving us hope. Before we didn’t think there was any possibility,” said Stultz about the vaccine.

“Obviously, we’re excited to open up and release restrictions as much as we can. that’s definitely our interest but we still have to be very cautious and careful to protect the most vulnerable people that we have living in working here,” said Grisso.

Richfield is still waiting on more guidance from the Virginia Department of Health to see how the new guidance could impact wellness programs or transportation.

Grisso added that every senior living facility is different and visitation guidelines all depend on the number of cases and the risk factors for those living there.

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