BRYAN, Texas — Retirement and nursing home communities were hit hard during the pandemic, especially with their residents being in the highly vulnerable population for COVID-19. Now, with vaccines widely available and Texas opening back up, these communities are adjusting to a new normal.
Over the last year, retirement and nursing homes had restricted visitors and gatherings due to the pandemic. As more people at the facilities are getting vaccinated, they can slowly reopen.
“[We've] seen an influx in people coming here. So we always stay around 100% occupied but during COVID, we probably dipped down to 95%, but it has picked back up. We’re starting our waitlist again. So yes we’ve definitely seen a big change just since the beginning of this year,” said Watercrest at Bryan's Sales and Marketing Director Juliet Crockell.
But, returning to what was once normal can be difficult while trying to keep residents safe and healthy.
“As the world shut down, it was hard for us to wrap our head around doing that and here we are a year later and you wouldn’t think it would be such a challenge to open back up, but it really is. Trying to keep the track record that we had, keeping residents safe and protected,” said Langford Senior Living's Executive Director Stacey Nehring.
With the elderly being a top priority for the COVID-19 vaccination, some facilities were able to provide vaccine clinics.
“We had someone come in that provided the vaccine for both rounds and our assisted living, our memory support, and independent living. It’s been a true blessing for us. Everyone who could get a vaccine here did get a vaccine and that led to over 98% of our population here is vaccinated," said Nehring.
Despite all the changes from the last year, these communities are most excited to be reunited with their visitors again.
“We are pretty much back to our new normal, as normal as normal can be now. It’s been great to see faces again and have that. The lack of visitors, that was the hardest part. Residents, they were sad not being able to see their families. Not having them coming here and residents not able to go go go like they were used to it was hard. It was very hard," said Crockell.
While visitors are welcome again, facilities are following regulations and state mandates to opening back up fully and safely.