Ohio’s COVID-19 health orders lifted, but some upset nursing homes still face restrictions

Published: Jun. 2, 2021 at 7:01 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - This Wednesday it’s “back to normal” for many Ohioans as the state’s Covid-19 health orders expired.

But some families with loved ones in nursing homes feel like they’re being left behind again.

Some restrictions have been left in place for group settings in Ohio.

19 Investigates spoke with one woman calling for changes.

One year ago, we spoke with Vicki Krafthefer.

The only way she could see her sister Christy was through a window at her Westerville nursing home.

It was a painful time for many families who could not visit their loved ones in person during most of the coronavirus pandemic.

Christy caught Covid-19, but was asymptomatic.

She is vaccinated now.

Krafthefer said her request for compassionate care visits at the time were denied.

“My sister got an infection in her eye, they let it go. And this went on for like three months. And my sister had to end up having surgery on her eye,” she said.

Krafthefer believes if she had been let into her sister’s nursing home, this would not have happened.

Many restrictions have lifted since then, including visitation.

According to this map on the Ohio Department of Health’s website, 86 percent of facilities are allowing indoor visits right now, 56 percent are allowing outdoor visits and just three percent are not allowing visits at all.

But there still are struggles.

Krafthefer has to make appointments to see her sister Christy.

She can go into her room, but only for one hour. No children are allowed.

ODH orders allow only two people per visit, face masks are required and so is social distancing.

The restrictions vary by facility and by any Covid-19 outbreaks they may have.

Krafthefer wonders when the restrictions will go away.

“They keep the restrictions and everything, but it’s like, okay you’re not going to make people get vaccinated who don’t want to get vaccinated,” she said.

She thinks some, like appointments for visits, are unnecessary.

“Everything’s 50/50 now, you have people vaccinated, people not vaccinated. And everything’s being lifted and opened up out here. So why can’t we give the residents the same respect?” she said.

Krafthefer said some normalcy for nursing home residents will really help their mental health.

Ohio Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff addressed nursing homes and Covid-19 restrictions in a press conference Wednesday.

He said they’re not lifting restrictions in nursing homes because of the environment, citing vulnerable Ohioans are receiving health care.

He pointed out this population was most impacted by Covid-19.

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