Four generations of family have first in-person reunion in months

Local News

EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Now that we’ve reached Phase Four in Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, nursing homes are allowing in-person visits.

It’s been over three months since families across Illinois have seen their loved ones in-person at assisted living facilities, but now that’s changed.

Irene Marie Leili, a resident at Serenity Assisted Living in East Peoria, tells WMBD the wait has been tough, but the reunion on Friday, was just that more special.

“I missed them the whole time,” Irene said.

While in-person visits are allowed now at nursing homes across the state, Janelle Clark, Executive Director at Serenity, says there are still guidelines they have to follow from Illinois Department of Public Health.

“First, they have to be set up in advance. We have to do a 24-hour screening and we also have to do a screening the day of the visit,” Clark said.

Face coverings and social distancing is required, but Irene says to be able to see her family in-person reminds her of how things were before the pandemic.

IDPH graphic for in-person visits

“Because we always got together. Ya know? We went to the stores, that’s the other thing I can’t do anymore, I can’t go to the store!” Leili said.

One of her visitors was her one-year-old great-grandson Logan.

“I saw him at Christmas time, but he was so little,” Irene said.

Irene’s daughter, Sue Fedash, says bringing home-cooked meals gives her mom a sense of normalcy.

“She gets so excited when I tell her I’m bringing her something, she’s like ‘oh goodie!'” Sue said. “It’s great, it’s really awesome. To be able to be outside and have a whole conversation, sit down.”

And while it’s been hard not seeing her mom in-person, Sue says Irene is in good hands.

“This place is wonderful and I love everything they did to keep my mom safe during this,” Sue said.

At Serenity, visits are open Tuesdays through Saturdays and they’re allowing 20 visits per day.

Janelle Clark says visits start around 9:00 a.m. and go until around 4:00 p.m.

While they have been connecting residents and their families via FaceTime and social media for months, she and Sue say that in-person connection is much more special.

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