PEORIA (WEEK) - Under new public health guidelines, outdoor visits are now allowed at long-term care facilities.
For the first time since March, family members can finally visit loved ones face to face at Serenity Assisted Living & Memory Care.
"Our residents are excited to see their families. We're excited to see their families. We're grateful to be able to offer the opportunity to do that in a safe environment," said Executive Director Janelle Clark.
Clark says visitors are screened 24 hours in advance, as well as when they arrive. They are also required to wear face masks and social distance.
Clark says FaceTime played a huge role in keeping loved ones connected while they were not able to do face-to-face visists.
"All of the social media has been great and the parades but nothing replaces that face-to-face interaction. We're ready for them to have those meaningful experiences again," added Clark.
Now, the facility is allowing one hour visits, with the last 15 minutes of each visit dedicated to deep-cleaning the visitation area.
"I didn't know what to do, I was so happy," said Serenity resident Ruth, who was excited to visit with her daughter, Jayne VanNess.
VanNess did not know how she would react being face-to-face with her mother for the first time in months.
"It's been very very difficult. I didn't know if I would cry or just… I mean we can't see each other. This is much better, much better," said VanNess.
VanNess says she has long awaited seeing her mother in person, and now looks forward to the day they can visit without masks.
"I mean we're seeing each other but not being able to see that beautiful smile that my mom has too, but I know it's under there," said VanNess.
While it is now allowed for families to visit each other face-to-face, it will still be a little while longer before they can hold hands or share a hug.
"I know that eventually things will get better and we'll be able to do that again," said VanNess.
You can find the updated IDPH 'Outdoor Visitation Guidelines' here.