'It was amazing’: Families reunite at nursing home, 7 months after outbreak began

Families visit loved ones in NC nursing homes for first time since start of pandemic

MONROE, N.C. — Some families with loved ones in nursing homes are finally getting to visit them in person.

On Thursday, at Monroe Rehab, Tracy Smith got to see his mom, Elizabeth, in-person for the first time in more than seven months.

The outdoor visits began this week. We’ve been following Smith’s story since April, when there was an outbreak of more than 70 cases at Monroe Rehabilitation Center.

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In May Smith told us, “I’m hoping that she’ll remember me, it’s really hard, you keep on waiting and time is running out. ”His mom suffers from dementia."

She was diagnosed with COVID-19 in May and taken to the hospital. He didn’t know if she would survive.

She did and returned back to the nursing home but like so many families, their visits have only been through a window, until Thursday.

“It was amazing because I didn’t think she’d make it through. God up above spared her to be here a little bit later,” Smith said.

After seven long and lonely months, Smith got to sit outside and talk to his mom. He brought her flowers and cupcakes, aside from the masks, it almost looked ordinary. Just a mother and son sitting on the front porch.

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The visits are kept to just an hour, and everyone has to be screened and have their temperature taken. There also can only be just two visitors at a time.

“I think she really enjoyed today,” he said.

Earlier this year, Smith didn’t know if his mother would be here. And just two weeks ago, she celebrated her 86th birthday.

Now he’s looking forward to the day he can finally give her a hug.

“Oh my god it will be overwhelming. There’s nothing like family,” Smith said.