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Avera Medical Minute: Prince of Peace Community offers more visiting options

Published: Jul. 26, 2020 at 11:10 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2020 at 10:14 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -

Erica Knips has been in the habit of visiting her Grandma Jean Knips at Avera Prince of Peace retirement community for quite a while.

"After work, I would stop over here and just sit with her and her friends at her table," said Erica.

Visits were quick but frequent. Sometimes other family members would join in.

"Stopping, you know, four or five times a week just to see how she's doing," said Erica.

When coronavirus emerged last March, visitors were understandably unable to enter. Erica and Jean's visits continued, but only on the phone. Their first visit in person, at a distance, was memorable.

"Oh, it was exciting it was just to see her smile and see her and her festive, Fourth of July, red, white and blue, and that was really neat just, just to see her happy face," said Erica.

At Avera Prince of Peace, the staff has been doing all they can to keep residents connected to family and friends. Alice Ronk is the director.

"COVID, it has changed our world a lot," said Ronk.

They helped with virtual visits, later an indoor meeting room with social distancing, but when the weather got nicer, it was time for some visiting in the fresh air.

“Have some one-on-one time with each other. That’s not necessarily through an iPad,” said Ronk.

While staying six feet or more apart, residents are connecting in a way they prefer over a phone call.

"Face to face, it's not really my family until I'm face to face with them," said Ronk.

Friends and family pre-book a thirty-minute visiting session. If the weather turns, there are social distancing visit rooms inside.

“I want to see Grandma I want to see how she’s doing, you know, not just talk to her on the phone,” said Ronk.

The staff is doing extra work cleaning and protecting residents inside. They also make sure no one misses a visit.

"They put up the calendar online to make it easier for everybody so yeah just all accommodated to make it better for the residents and the families and friends and everybody else," said Erica.

Alice can see the transformation from before to after a visit.

“And you’re feeling alone and isolated. And now that they’re able to see their families, there’s a smile on their face. They seem much more peaceful there. They see a reason to just keep going,” said Ronk.

Erica says she's never too old to learn a life lesson from her Grandma Jean.

“She makes any situation, a good one, even if it’s not. Like she always has something that is good about it, so I think I guess I really look up to her, just because I want to be like her in that way,” said Erica.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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