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As care facilities rules are relaxed, Bend woman recalls inability to visit mother

"Even when I would visit her, other residents would be happy, because it was a new face and someone else to talk to"

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ)-- It's been a long time coming, for families separated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Oregon's long-term care facilities are now allowed to offer outdoor visitation with family members.

Carolyn Testerman of Bend told NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday her mother stayed at Mt. Bachelor Memory Care for five years and died on May 17 from Alzheimer's.

She said before COVID-19 hit, she would visit her mother at least two to three days a week.

From the start of the shutdown, she said Mt. Bachelor Memory Care started taking all the necessary precautions and put restrictions in place to protect employees and guests.

Testerman said in early May, she requested an outdoor visit to see her mother, but that it was denied because the governors' restrictions due to COVID-19 had not loosened. She said she was given the option to FaceTime or call her mother.

“It was really difficult, not being able to lay eyes on her, or even see any photographs or pictures," Testerman said. "At one point, in my sleep, I was hearing her calling out for me with a desperate voice.

"Whether that was just me emotionally or depending on your belief system, she was calling out for me. After that, it made it extremely difficult.”

Care facilities that will allow outdoor visitation will need a plan that follows safety guidelines. If the guidelines are followed, residents also will be allowed to leave and return to their facilities.

Facilities with COVID-19 cases will not be allowed to have outdoor visitation until the cases are under control.

Testerman said this change will benefit families and loved ones who have not been able to see each other.

“I think it’s going to make a big difference for everybody, and hopefully, it doesn’t change the safety factors," Testerman said. "Even when I would visit her, other residents would be happy, because it was a new face and someone else to talk to."

"So I really hope this works well for people to be able to visit who are local, at least where their loved ones are."

NewsChannel 21 also spoke to Pilot Butte Rehabilitation Center, who said have become a bit stricter for them.

They are allowing outdoor visitation, as of last week and also allow cellphone and walkie-talkie calls.

Indoor visitation restrictions are still in place in Oregon.

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.

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