La Crescent assisted living facility allowing family members and friends to see their loved ones in-person

Up to three caregivers can visit at one time, and must wear masks

LA CRESCENT, Minn. (WKBT) – For the past several months, those staying in assisted living facilities have not been able to see their loved ones and close friends.

That was until a few weeks ago when SpringBrook Village in La Crescent began a new policy, called the Essential Caregiver Visits, to bring some normalcy back to the lives to residents who need it most.

“It was a big hole that was missing in our residents lives,” executive director Chris Dallmann said. “So, it was important to us to get that back.”

Donna and Ernie Sloan have been married for 67 years.

“It’s good,” Donna said.

They’ve been living at SpringBrook for two and a half years.

“They take really good care of us here,” Donna said.

And for the most part, they save some time to spend with family.

“They’d come and take us out for dinner or whatever and go for a ride,” Donna said. “But after the virus, it was nothing.”

There was no more being with their loved ones together for the time being.

“We did have a few window visits with them between, but that’s not like being close, you know,” Donna said.

Beth Dolder-Zieke helps out her mom, Pauleen, whenever she can.

“My mother has dementia,” Beth said. “And sometimes she gets scared and upset. And I think that I was a constant in her life, somebody she could depend on.”

When the pandemic hit, she could only see her through the glass.

“Mom was confused,” Beth said. “She didn’t know why I was outside. You know, she’s like ‘come in, why are you outside?'”

That was the closest they could get to each other.

“My mom deteriorated quite a bit in the last four months,” Beth said. “It was very hard for her.”

But last month, Minnesota put in place some new guidance for assisted living facilities to make it possible for family members, like Beth, or residents, like Donna and Ernie, to see their loved ones in-person again.

“I mean, I was like sign me up right away,” Beth said. “I walked in the room and she (her mother) looked at me and she said, ‘where you been?’ And I said, ‘mom, I’ve been here. I’ve just been outside the window.’ ‘Oh, OK.’ She didn’t even skip a beat.”

“Makes the day,” Ernie said.

SpringBrook’s program is based off the state’s guidance.

“Everybody needs to be able to see their loved ones,” Dallmann said.

“My mother probably doesn’t know exactly who I am,” Beth said. “But she knows I’m somebody she that cares about.”

Beth doesn’t take seeing her mother for granted.

“Sometimes, just breathing together is enough,” Beth said.

And today, Donna and Ernie saw their daughter, sister, and sister-in-law for the first time in more than 100 days.

“They miss us, too, at least that’s what they tell us,” Donna said, laughing. “It’s home.”

Dallmann says family and friends can visit for up to three hours. Just three caregivers can visit at one time. They must wear a mask as well.