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Canal View starts allowing outdoor visitation

HANCOCK — Canal View – Houghton County began allowing residents to have outdoor visitation with family members this weekend, shortly after baseline testing showed no employees or residents had COVID-19. 

“I’m excited,” said Canal View Administrator Kim Salmi. “We’re all excited for our residents to be able to see their family members. It’s imperative for our well-being, and our job is to make it as safe as we possibly can.”

The reopening plan was prepared in coordination with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department. 

The visits began Saturday with residents in comfort care, who will be allowed to have meals with family. If the initial rounds go well, that could be expanded to other residents, Salmi said. 

Visitations take place in an outdoor courtyard. Residents will come through a separate entrance for their own screening.  Visitors will be screened and educated on how to properly wear personal protective equipment such as masks and gowns, Salmi said. 

Visitors can only come within 6 feet if they’re performing an act of daily living (ADL), such as feeding their relatives.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order restricting visitations at long-term care facilities has been extended through July 24. While Salmi acknowledged the frustrations people feel, she said the restrictions are in place for the safety of residents and staff. Any return to indoor visitation would have to be managed carefully, said Salmi, citing the lack of mask-wearing she’s seen around the area.

“We’re not just going to lift the veil and let everybody in,” she said. “It’s going to be very limited, very strategic in how it’s done.”

More than 500 COVID-19 tests were done at Canal View in late June, all of which came back negative. Salmi credited the staff’s diligence in following screening and prevention protocols.

Employees are screened twice every day they work, Salmi said. There’s also been education or staff and residents on proper practices and the changing understanding of signs and symptoms. 

Further testing is determined in part by the MI Safe Start map. Because the U.P. is in a low-risk region, no additional testing is required unless an employee or resident tests positive. 

If the U.P. is elevated to medium risk, depending on the level of positives in the area, Canal View may go to weekly testing. 

“We have a plan in place to be able to do that,” Salmi said. 

Canal View is reaching out to eligible families to set up visits. Families who want to visit relatives can contact Canal View’s activities staff to see if they can arrange a visit.

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