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At nursing homes, a way to connect

South Boston News / June 25, 2020
New visitation booths at local nursing homes, made and donated by Hope Church, provide a new way for residents to connect with family and friends — while maintaining social distance during the pandemic.

“We were looking for different ways to help the community during these difficult times,” said Hope Church pastor Jesse Young, adding that church member Aaron Ingram discovered the booths on Facebook.

Three facilities were on board after Ingram contacted Keisha Jackson, who reached out to the senior living centers. Jackson is clinical manager of the intensive care unit and ortho joint center with Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.

“It’s been hard enough not seeing loved ones for the past three months,” said Jackson. “The coronavirus can spread like a wildfire in a facility.”

The visitation booth has three Plexiglass walls and no top. The fourth side of the booth is open for the resident to walk into the booth and have a seat. The booth accommodates wheelchairs, too.

Young, Ingram and Hunter Boyles, along with the help of two other church members, built four visitation booths. The booths were delivered last Tuesday, one booth each to Sentara MeadowView Terrace in Clarksville and to Berry Hill Health and Rehab, and two booths to Sentara Woodview.

Young said, “There are several members of our church who have not been able to visit with their loved ones in these facilities. I hope this will provide a closer time with one another without danger of spreading the virus.”

“Our residents saw it, and are excitedly waiting to use it,” said Wendy Tucker, Berry Hill’s activities director. “The booth is more private and personable; I think families will love it."

The word of these booths is quickly spreading: Family of residents of Berry Hill will receive their newsletter this week with information pertaining to the visitation booth. Other facilities are working out the details, like its location and scheduling. Plus, there needs to be good weather.

Angela Caison, The Woodview’s director of nursing said, “Recently, residents have been talking through glass in the front lobby, which was distracting and did not have a personal connection.”

The booth, it’s hoped, will change that.

Sentara MeadowView Terrace is sending out a formal letter this week with guidelines for using the visitation booth to safeguard all parties. The Clarksville long term care facility plans to start scheduling visits next week.

“We are planning to utilize the Sundrop Porch [a unit of MVT], which has easy vehicle and pedestrian access,” said MeadowView Terrace Administrator Jason Claiborne. “I feel like this will be more of a personal visit by allowing better visibility and communication.”

Hope Church will be making more visitation booths. The next two will be delivered to Commonwealth Senior Living in South Boston.

“I hope we receive positive feedback; we will make as many as we can,” said Young.

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