UPPER EAST SIDE, Manhattan — So many of us lived through it, going more than a year without being able to visit an older loved one in a nursing home.
But now the rules are being relaxed and the joy can be felt across our city.
“It’s been a year and five days that I hadn’t seen my dad or hugged him,” Ella Pasquariello said.
Friday was a day that Pasquariello had been dreaming about since the pandemic shut down in-person visits to Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home last March.
Her 92-year-old father, Dino Sabatelli, battled COVID-19 right after lockdown, without seeing any family members by his bedside. But Sabatelli knew they were all praying for his full recovery.
Now he’s getting the hugs he’s been longing for.
“She’s the love of my life,” Sabatelli told PIX11 News after getting a big, emotional hug from his daughter. “I have two daughters and they are wonderful.”
Nursing homes across New York State and the country are gradually re-opening to visitors. One reason: widespread vaccine availability. Also, herd immunity has also taken hold in many facilities.
“It was emotional just to be able to hug him and sit with him close,” Pasquariello added.
Scott LaRue, the CEO of ArchCare who manages Mary Manning Walsh, told us this was a bit of a surprise.
“Last night, unexpectedly, new guidelines came out from the department of health completely changing visitation and aligning with the federal guidelines. So the only time there would be a shutdown is if someone tests positive on the floor and it would be shutdown briefly while testing is going on.”
Safety protocols are still in place for all visitors: temperature checks, face masks and hand sanitizers.
But now communal dining and group recreational activities have resumed and Dino Sabatelli couldn’t be happier.
“It looks like things are getting back to normal, so wear a mask,” he said.
Pasquariello said positivity is her father’s trademark.
“He’s the type of guy who finds good in any situation. I couldn’t be happier.”