The pandemic has led to increased isolation and loneliness for many of us, but for those in long-term care facilities it has been even worse.

Housing a high-risk population, long-term care facilities around the country went into lockdown, meaning already limited contact with friends and family was nonexistent.

It’s been a hard situation for everyone involved, but long-term care staff has been coming up with ways to make things easier.

Once some of the restrictions began to loosen last summer, Cody Regional Health started allowing socially distanced outdoor visits outside the center, but with the onset of cooler weather, the residents were only able to talk on a phone and see their families through the front doors of the facility until recently.

In late December, the center opened its hugging booth in the lobby. The booth is a clear divider with armholes that allows families of long-term care residents to have physical contact with their loved ones, many for the first time since last March.

The booth was made possible thanks to Annalea Avery, the Cody Regional Health Foundation Director, and a grant from the foundation. Avery came up with the idea after a contactless visit with her own grandmother.

“It’s near and dear to my heart, personally, and I hope that this is a really awesome gift that we can give to our patients and families,” she said about the project in December.

The booth is open four days a week and Brian Huso, who heads the center, said it has been a great addition.

“It has been going extremely well,” Huso said. “Annalea’s visit to her grandmother is what got this off the ground and we’re extremely thankful for that.”

The pandemic is still making our lives difficult, but little things, like being able to hug a family member for the first time in months, make it easier and are great to see. 


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