SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The Avera Prince of Peace Retirement Community is giving visitors a safe way to connect with family members.
On a regular day, resident Jean Knips is often surrounds herself with good company.
“There are some days where she’d have 11 or 12 people visit her. There are very few days where she did not have a visitor,” Jean’s daughter-in-law Brenda Knips said
Two of them being her son Dave and his wife Brenda. In mid-March, the nursing home stopped letting visitors in to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Knips couldn’t see her family for three months.
“We tried doing window visits with her, but that was hard for her because as far as getting her shade up and getting her a chair, using her phone and talking to us, it was just too many things to multitask,” Brenda said.
Eventually, they settled for telephone conversations, which they say didn’t feel as personal.
“You never know how things are going sometimes by what she says; she has a tendency to be positive all the time,” Jean’s son Dave Knips said.
Last week, Prince of Peace installed a new “Visitor Booth” with a plexiglass wall so families can have face-to-face conversations from a safe distance. Families have to call in to set up reservations. Each session lasts a half hour.
“We’ve got a speaker system with microphones inside so they can communicate across the plexiglass from one another and then they just go on about their visit,” Administrator for the Avera Prince of Peace Retirement Community Justin Hinker said.
Administrator Justin Hinker says that in between visits, they sanitize the booth, and the microphone, and anything the residents and visitors may have touched.
“From those half-hour time slots, almost every single one of them is full. We’ve got visits going on throughout the day,” Hinker said.
“And she just seems so happy when she has seen us too, like we can truly see that she seems to be doing ok,” Brenda said.
As reservations continue to fill, so do the hearts of visiting families.
“Just for us, on our side of the picture, it’s nice to see her too,” Dave said.
The booth times are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with talks of possibly extending. Hinker says they’ve even talked about eventually doing outdoor visits.