MARS HILL, Maine — Northern Light Continuing Care in Mars Hill will begin outside family visitation on Thursday, according to local hospital officials.
Visitation at Northern Light A.R. Gould and its outreach facilities was halted in most cases when the COVID-19 pandemic began in late winter, in order to help protect patients, staff and visitors and slow the spread of the virus.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer the opportunity for families to come and visit their loved one,” said Kelly Lundeen, director of the facility. “This has been such a challenging time for our residents and their families, and we are doing all we can to help them reconnect in a safe way.”
For now, as a trial period, outdoor visits will be available by appointment only during limited hours Monday through Friday. Family members, up to two people over the age of 10, can visit a loved one for 20 minutes.
At this point, each block of time will be reserved for one family only. Visits will be weather dependent.
“To make this successful, it will be important that all involved follow the safety guidelines we have in place,” Lundeen said. “Our residents are at high risk by nature of their age, their overall health and living in a congregate care environment. We won’t be able to continue to allow visits if we can’t do so in a safe manner.”
Family members who visit will be required to follow safety steps, including: arriving only at the appointed time; being screened upon arrival; sanitizing hands; wearing a mask (both residents and visitors) that cannot be removed during the visit; maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet; and not bringing in food or gifts.
Lundeen said staff will be available during the visits to assist with any tools that may be needed to help visitors and their loved ones hear each other through masks and distance.
“For those who might not be able to come in person right now, either because they are not feeling well or have traveled out of state recently, we encourage you to take advantage of other alternatives for staying in touch,” said Lundeen.
“We have cell phones and iPads for our residents to use who do not have their own. Calls, FaceTime, and Zoom are all great technical options for staying in touch. We have staff who will help residents who are not technically savvy get connected. Window visits are another option,” she added. “You can be outside of the facility and view your loved one through the window while talking on the phone.”
Appointments for visits can be made by contacting Vicki, activities coordinator, at 207-768-4964.