Tri-Cities nursing homes limit visitation to keep coronavirus out

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SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and rehabilitation centers across the Tri-Cities are taking major safety measures to keep COVID-19 away from residents. Non-essential visitation is being limited to protect those who are most vulnerable to the virus.

News Channel 11 reached out to several area facilities on Friday. Centers like Brookdale Senior Living in Johnson City, Ivy Hall nursing home in Elizabethton, and Cornerstone Village in Johnson City said they are limiting visitations and closely following CDC guidelines to protect their residents.

As of Friday afternoon, there is still one confirmed coronavirus case in Northeast Tennessee. Health officials say the patient is an elderly man in Sullivan County. Area care facility leaders say they want to keep the virus far away from their doors.

“We’re doing our best to keep it from entering here,” said Lee Elliott, administrator for Holston Manor rehabilitation center in Kingsport.

Elliott said Holston Manor has increased safety measures through the week. Visitors and staff have been screened with health-related questions and are having their temperature taken upon entering.

“Today we are further restricting that, and denying all visitation from outside,” said Elliott.

At assisted living community The Blake in Kingsport, non-essential visitation is also no longer allowed.

“It’s our first priority to make sure that we’re taking the health and safety of our residents first and keeping the virus out of the building,” said Caroline Barry, vice president of communications.

The Blake in Kingsport

An Accushield terminal requires all visitors to sign in at the front desk of The Blake. The screen asks guests to answer if they’ve traveled outside the country, or had fever, cough, or shortness of breath within the last 14 days – or been exposed to someone who has. If the answer is ‘yes’ to any question, you aren’t allowed to proceed into the building.

With visitation restricted, The Blake has been encouraging residents and their families to video chat through Skype and record video messages to send so they can still connect.

“For residents who might not know how to use those things, we’re teaching them how to use them,” said Barry.

Despite strict visitation rules, most nursing homes say some exceptions can be made if your family member is in critical condition.

“If you have a resident that might be actively passing, we don’t want their family to be denied,” said Elliott. “They will go through the same screening procedure that we’ve had up to this point.”

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