Although strict visitation restrictions have been put in place as a result of the recent coronavirus outbreak, one granddaughter told her grandpa she's engaged in a heartwarming and creative way thanks to the quick thinking of his nursing home staff. Touching photos shared by Premier Living & Rehab Center in Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, detail how one family managed to connect despite a coronavirus quarantine.
With health officials cautioning that older folks are more at risk for experiencing severe or potentially deadly illness as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic, many nursing, rehabilitation, and assisted living facilities have taken extra precautions to ensure residents health and safety, including restricting visitations. And so when a woman named Carly recently got engaged, it seemed her 87-year-old grandfather, a resident at Premier Living & Rehab Center, might have to be the last to know. Thankfully, staff at Premier Living & Rehab Center had an idea.
When Carly stopped by the nursing home to drop a few things off for her grandfather at the door, administrator Gennie Parnell overheard her being congratulated about her recent engagement. Parnell tells Romper she noticed that Carly kept glancing in the direction of her grandfather's room, and knowing that Carly was likely eager to share her big news with her grandfather, Parnell invited her to walk around the building to his window.
"I walked [into his room] and lifted the blind and said, ‘we got you a surprise!'" Parnell tells Romper. "About that time she walked up and she had her hand up pointing at her finger."
Parnell then offered to help Carly's grandfather into a chair closer to the window so that he could have a better view and talk to her through the glass. "When he sat up is when he really realized I think that it was her," Parnell tells Romper. "He was thrilled because they have just a very special bond and relationship."
Excited, Carly's grandfather urged her to come inside. "She said, 'I can't because of the virus' and she put her hand up on the glass and he stood up and put his hand on the glass," Parnell tells Romper, adding that the sweet moment had staff at the center in tears. "We were all no good for the rest of the day," she says.
The growing number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States has led government and public health officials to implement a number of different restrictions in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus. As a result, families across the country have grappled to find ways to stay connected amid calls for social distancing and self-quarantines.
Carly later thanked the staff at Premier Living & Rehab Center for helping her find an alternative way of connecting with her grandfather. "So glad I was allowed to see my grandfather, even under the circumstances of this virus I was still able to tell him I am engaged," she wrote on her Facebook page. "Thank you premier living staff!"
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.