SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Residents at the Good Samaritan Society are welcoming their family back inside after what has been a tough year.

When the pandemic hit, residents in senior living communities were unable to see loved ones face to face, and instead relied on video chats and window visits.

Floyd Johnson says it’s been hard.

“When the pandemic first started, I was with my wife, of course. And then she passed away in June 16th of last year. So then I was alone and it was, it was pretty tough,” Johnson said.

The visitation restrictions didn’t only impact Johnson, but his family too.

Johnson’s grandaughter, Rena Jensen says the experience has been emotional. The two have a close relationship, which makes today’s face to face visit mean so much.

“I grew up with my grandparents just right across the street from me. And so, I spent a lot of my time over there. They were at our house a lot and, yeah, growing up, they were always right there,” Jensen said.

Protocols like masking up are still necessary, but those who are fully vaccinated like Jensen and Johnson’s daughter, Linda Parr, they can now take part in something that hasn’t been possible over the last year… A hug.

“That just felt so good when I gave him a big hug. I just squeezed. And I, I says, man, that feels good. And he says, you better believe it,” Linda Parr said.

“To see families to be able to make that announcement that families can now come in, even though, you know, we still have our protocols in place, it’s just, it’s, it’s been a joy to see the smiles on our residents’ faces on families and staff too,” GSS Administrator Melissa Tordoff said.

Johnson says the new guidelines give him hope, and he thanks the staff for everything they’ve done.

As the family looks back on a tough year, they’re looking forward to the future.
And today, treasuring moments like this with their loved ones.

“Before you just kind of take it, you know, take it for granted, but now it’s like, man, enjoy every hug,” Parr said.

For more information on the visitation guidelines at Good Samaritan Society, click here.