Coatesville VA Medical Center (VAMC) resumed face to face visits on Thursday for Veterans residing in the Community Living Center (CLC) on campus.
The decision to resume face to face visits was based on meeting established conditions, two of which were that 70 percent of the residents must be fully vaccinated and the county COVID-19 positivity rate must be below 10 percent.
"Seeing families reunited is the product of a lot of work and a lot of hope," said Shirleen Bennett Director of the Geriatrics and Extended Care Unit. "They have been waiting a long time for this and being able to provide face to face visitation is a testament to the strict adherence to the personal protective equipment standards of the staff and Veterans in our CLC."
The CLC staff has been helping Veterans stay in contact with loved ones throughout the pandemic with purchased and donated tablets and other mobile devices. Window visits have also provided a safe way for loved ones to see each other while using telephones to speak through the glass.
"I visited just about every week throughout the winter with the window visits except for a week or two in February where the weather was just so cold and miserable," said Margret Anker, wife of John Anker, a Vietnam Era Navy Veteran and resident at the CLC.
John and Margret speak by telephone every night when possible and Margret gave John a tablet so they could video chat whenever they wanted.
"There is no comparison, [the window visit] wasn't a visit to me," said John Anker. "This is a big improvement."
Kathleen Beech, a Registered Nurse working in the CLC helped John prepare for his first face to face visit with his wife Margret in a year.
"John got so nervous, like it was a first date. He had whiskers this morning so I thought I would shave him. Then he decided to get all dressed up. He sounded so nervous," explained Beach. "He hadn't touched her in a year. It almost broke my heart."
After visiting together for nearly an hour John and Margret said they look forward to having a face to face visit every week and hope for the opportunity to sit outside together once the weather improves.
Families looking to schedule a visit with their Veteran may schedule an appointment through the social worker on staff at the CLC who assists their Veteran.