GLENVILLE — The doors will open Friday for families locked out of the Glendale Home for most of the last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are a number of conditions and caveats designed to protect the residents and staff from the virus, but it is nonetheless a big step toward normalcy for those who’ve been isolated in the Glenville nursing home.
Outdoor visitation, with its reduced risk of transmission, was allowed during the warm months of 2020, said Schenectady County Manager Rory Fluman.
“But this is, you can go up to your family member’s room,” he said. “You’re not going to be able to mill around, but you can go up.”
The state will relax nursing home visitation restrictions slightly Friday, but the timing is coincidental for Glendale Home. What’s allowing it to re-admit visitors is the fact that the facility has been COVID-free for 14 days. The state has long banned visitation within 14 days of infection and continues to do so, even with Friday’s other changes.
The 200-bed county-owned/county-operated nursing home off Hetcheltown Road maintained a remarkable track record through the first surge of the pandemic in early 2020, with not a single resident infection and only a few employee infections as thousands of residents of other New York nursing homes were dying.
But in late 2020, the second surge of the pandemic caught up with Glendale. Numerous residents and employees contracted the virus, and six residents died from early December to early January.
The staff got the situation back under control with careful segregation of residents, the remaining infections cleared up, and no one else died.
Glendale has been COVID-free for most of February, Fluman said.
There won’t be visitation this weekend, but starting Monday, visitation will be seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One of the limitations imposed by the state is on the number of visitors at one time: no more than one visitor per every five residents. That would be 40 if Glendale was full to capacity.
“Because of overwhelming interest, at first we have to limit the time to 45 minutes to an hour, it has to be scheduled and everyone coming in the building will need to be rapid-tested,” Fluman said.
Rapid-result COVID testing is free for visitors — the state provided Glendale with 1,800 test kits.
Friday morning will undoubtedly be a welcome end to months of electronic visits for residents and their families alike.
“We’re excited to resume visitation,” Fluman said.
HELP WITH VACCINATION
Also Thursday, Schenectady County announced it would offer in-person assistance to residents who’ve had difficulty scheduling vaccination appointments.
“Searching for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment can be a daunting task, especially for people who don’t have reliable internet access,” Philip Fields, deputy chair of the Schenectady County Legislature, said in a news release. “Until Schenectady County receives an increased allotment of vaccine doses and can accommodate more residents closer to home, we will work with our community to find appointments for individuals wherever they are available, and able to travel to.”
Starting Friday, help will be available weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Karen B. Johnson Library, the central branch at 99 Clinton St. in downtown Schenectady.
Starting March 1, laptop computers will be available for this purpose from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Bornt Branch of the library (948 State St.) Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and at the Mont Pleasant Branch (1036 Crane St.) Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In other COVID-rated news Thursday:
- The seven-day average positive COVID test rate has dropped to 3.3% statewide and 1.9% each in the Capital Region and Mohawk Valley. At the county level, the rate is Albany 1.8%, Fulton 5.6%, Montgomery 4.7%, Rensselaer 1.2%, Saratoga 2.7%, Schenectady 2.2% and Schoharie 2.1%.
- Statewide, 5,703 COVID-positive patients were hospitalized, including 162 in the Capital Region and 94 in the Mohawk Valley.
- The official state death toll rose to 38,277 with the addition of 89 deaths, including one each in Fulton and Rensselaer counties.
- The number of New Yorkers who’ve received the first dose of COVID vaccine reached 2.56 million; this works out to 12.8% of the state population and about 25% of the New Yorkers currently eligible to be vaccinated. The number who’ve also received the second dose reached 1.42 million Thursday.