Family able to visit at nursing homes again

Mary Johnson is happy her son William is able to visit her in person again at Bayou Pines Care Center in La Marque.

It has been a welcome sight to see family members reuniting with their loved ones.

Many are now able to visit with mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, children and friends because they’ve taken advantage of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

As of Tuesday, 68,718 residents in Galveston County have been fully vaccinated; and at least 106,204 people have gotten at least one dose, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. And, people who’ve been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One of those things is spending time with family, friends and loved ones, which is a pretty big deal.

Just ask William Johnson, who hadn’t seen his mother, Mary Johnson, who has been living at Bayou Pines Care Center in La Marque, since March 2020.

“It means a whole lot more when you lay eyes on them,” said William Johnson, a Texas City resident. “I could see that she was doing well and taken care of. It was a joyous moment.”

Those joyous moments have been celebrated for the past few weeks or so in Galveston County and at nursing homes across the United States, where COVID-19 has forced long-term care facilities to limit contact between residents and their loved ones.

We applaud the Department of Texas Health and Human Services, which followed CDC guidelines to keep residents at long-term care facilities, as well as people who care for them, safe and healthy.

We’re grateful mandates were put in place and that once safety precautions were implemented and vaccines became available, families were again able to visit loved ones in senior-care facilities.

The current mandate issued by health and human services allows two essential caregivers to visit a resident and permits physical contact.

“It has been uplifting for them to be able to hug, hold hands and go outside,” said Kathy Thurman, executive director of The Meridian, an assisted-living facility in Galveston. “It’s like a breath of fresh air.”

How wonderful is that?

It goes without saying that before this global pandemic came along, if we’re being honest, we often took each other for granted when it came to spending time with one another. With cellphones and apps such as FaceTime and Zoom, we can see one another over a computer or telephone screen. We had let human-to-human contact become almost non-existent in some cases.

We believe there’s a lesson to be learned from this pandemic, which is to spend as much time as we can in personal contact with our loved ones.

Of course, we can’t tell you what to do as it relates to getting one of the vaccines available. But if you’re wanting to spend time with your loved ones, especially those most vulnerable and susceptible to becoming compromised with COVID-19, it’s imperative to do what’s right for you and your family.

Johnson was finally able to give his 89-year-old mother a forehead kiss on March 29 after not being able to physically touch her in more than a year.

“I never felt lonely during the pandemic, but I did miss physical touch,” Mary Johnson said. “I just wanted to wrap my arms around him when I saw him.”

This past year has taught us that time is precious and waits on no one. And we believe there’s no greater joy than spending time with those who mean the most to us.

Be safe, and get vaccinated when the opportunity presents itself, so you too can get back to loving on those who you love the most.

• Angela Wilson

Angela Wilson: 409-683-5239; angela.wilson@galvnews.com.

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