Vaccinated Illinois Nursing Home Residents Can Finally Get Hugs

The power of a simple touch – it’s been an impossibility at Illinois nursing homes during a year of pandemic precautions. But now, vaccinated residents can finally get a hug. CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey reports.

Video Transcript

- The power of a simple touch, an impossibility at Illinois nursing homes during a year of pandemic precautions. But tonight, vaccinated residents can finally get a big hug. CBS 2 investegator Megan Hickey has been reporting on these restrictions for weeks now, and what they've meant. Finally, the state is weighing in with new rules. Megan.

MEGAN HICKEY: Right, Brad. I spoke with several families over the last few weeks who are frustrated because even though their loved ones were fully vaccinated, they still couldn't visit or even hug them. Now, the state finally updating those guidelines, and they're telling me this will be life changing.

- Hey, Kurt.

- Hey.

MEGAN HICKEY: Kurtis Redmond's weekend dinners with his big brother Richard stopped abruptly one year ago. No more trips home, no more visits.

RICHARD REDMOND: They had to stay in their rooms, four walls, and were only able to walk the halls at given times. OK

which is why this quick touch on the patio of his West Side nursing home Tuesday was poignant.

RICHARD REDMOND: I had never been able to touch him like you saw today.

MEGAN HICKEY: It's thanks to updated guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health. We've been asking about it for weeks. Redmond has, too.

RICHARD REDMOND: I have been in touch with the governor's office asking when would the changes come. I've been in touch with the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Chicago Department of Public Health, when are the changes coming? So today, my prayers have been answered.

OK, Kurt. I'll call you. You go back in, OK? I'll give you a call.

MEGAN HICKEY: The guidance for the very first time allows indoor visitation for fully vaccinated residents.

RON NUNZIATO: I think that it needs to be clear, we're not out of the woods yet.

MEGAN HICKEY: Ron Nunziato's extended care consulting oversees 20 long term care facilities in the Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana area, and he says these updates have been long awaited.

RON NUNZIATO: There can be some physical touch and an embracing, so to speak. We're very pleased to be able to open these facilities up and allow this much needed, much wanted visitation.

MEGAN HICKEY: It's possible that these allowances could be revoked if infection rates rise again. But Redmond says it's brought his brother one thing for certain-- hope.

RICHARD REDMOND: He can now look forward to going back to what he has always been used to. That's so important.

- Thank you.

MEGAN HICKEY: Now, we should note, there's no vaccination requirement for visitors. Now, new residents who are vaccinated no longer have to quarantine for 14 days upon being admitted. Brad.

- All right. CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey. Great news. Thank you, Megan.