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Five Johnson County Senior Living Facilities Reopen For Visitors — ‘Can’t Imagine How Much This Means’

Resident Sandy Holsher (left) visits with her son, Brett Holsher (right), at Homestead Assisted Living of Shawnee
Photo courtesy of Homestead Assisted Living
Resident Sandy Holsher (left) visits with her son, Brett Holsher (right), at Homestead Assisted Living of Shawnee

Homestead Assisted Living locations in Johnson County reopened visitation after nearly a year-long restriction due to COVID-19.

Five Homestead Assisted Living facilities in Johnson County have reopened for visitors for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced an end to in-person visits nearly a year ago.

The Homestead facilities, owned by Topeka-based Midwest Health, shut off visitations in March 2020 in order to protect its residents and communities from the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that all residents have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine — and waited the recommended two weeks following their second dose — the facilities’ managers say they are able to welcome family members and loved ones back in to see residents.

“Residents and family members have been waiting a long time to sit next to one another and have a face-to-face conversation in the comfort of their own home,” said Dell Weidner, executive director at Homestead of Lenexa, which opened up visitation on Monday.

“You can’t imagine how much this means to them.”

Other Homestead facilities now open for visits

Other Homestead communities now open for visits include those in Overland Park and Shawnee, as well as two Olathe communities.

At least two Homestead facilities — the one in Overland Park and one in Olathe — were sites of COVID-19 outbreaks last year, according to the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

Although visitation restrictions are being lifted, there are a number of cautionary guidelines in place that visitors must follow before entering a community, including:

  • All visitors must test negative for COVID-19 upon arrival for visit.
  • Visitors are required to wear a face mask.
  • All visitors must pass a health screen before entering the community.
  • Visits need to be scheduled in advance.

Though the COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t required by Homestead, residents didn’t hesitate once offered, said Lauren Wheeler, executive director of the Olathe assisted living location.
“Almost every aspect of our residents’ lives have been changed due to COVID-19,” Wheeler said. “So when the vaccine became available to them, they didn’t even hesitate to take it. They see the vaccine as the fastest path back to normal.”

Juliana Garcia is a reporter with the Shawnee Mission Post.
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