The pandemic has been an especially lonely time for seniors in personal care and assisted living facilities.
For many months, residents weren't able to see their families in person, connecting only through video chat and phone calls.
But as restrictions begin to ease, some facilities in Carbon County are once again letting families visit their loved ones--from a safe distance.
"Hi mom, how are you!!"
Debbie Zhner is thrilled to finally be able to ask her mom that question in-person, after Heritage Hill Senior Community gave the "okay" for outdoor visits earlier this month.
"I know she was getting very depressed not being able to...we used to hug and kiss and things like that and we can't do that, we still can't do that now. But now she's really excited, I told her I was coming up and I could see her," said Zhner.
Family members must pass a COVID screening and get their temperature taken in order to visit, a small request Zhner says is well-worth it.
"Even if we have to take precautions and things like that, I'm fine with that. It's just getting to see her and talk to her," she said.
At The Palmerton, outdoor visits have been allowed for the past few months. But with cooler weather already arriving, the facility is now also having safe visits inside.
"We've designated an area inside our lobby with the same setup with the distancing, and a comfortable seating area and some plexiglass," said Colleen Cadden, community relations director at The Palmerton.
Joanne Lendvay and her mother Pauline were the first ones to use the indoor set-up.
"It was almost better than sitting outside and yelling across the doorway but this was very nice to be able to sit in there with her," said Lendvay.
Joanne says it's been tough not getting to see her mom regularly but thanks to these small visits and social media, they're making due.
"We can look on Facebook and see that she's doing okay, going to activities, but she likes to come down and we can visit with her for the half hour and see that she's okay," said Lendvay.
Both facilities have stayed COVID-19 free and hope to continue that trend, while also giving residents and their families more time together.
"It's really safety first but we also really care about the well-being of the residents, emotionally and mentally as well, and those visits are really important," said Rachael Timm, marketing director at Heritage Hill.