To Stay Connected, A Visitation Pod At the Witherell!

The pandemic has certainly challenged us all. For nursing home residents and their families, balancing regular visitation with health and safety protocols has been especially difficult. But, thanks to some creative brainstorming from our team at the Witherell, we’ve recently pioneered unique and innovative visitation solutions.

The Witherell has become the first skilled nursing facility in the region to deploy “visitation pods” that let family visits happen safely. The pods are free-standing office containers placed outside of the Witherell. They have their own heating and air conditioning units, offer windows for easy ventilation, and can be sanitized after each visit. Best of all, they offer a means to continue visitation during winter months, even if any new cases of COVID-19 emerge. Happily, the Witherell has maintained a very low level of COVID-19 cases among residents and staff. For everyone’s health and safety, residents with COVID-19 are quarantined from others in the facility. Staff quarantine at home, outside the facility.

“With winter coming, we knew tents would not be a viable solution,” explains Larry Vanterpool, director of facilities at the Witherell. “We had been purchasing shipping containers to store our PPE and that’s when inspiration struck—why not use self-contained offices like you see on construction sites for visits.”

The Witherell is currently securing wheelchair ramps for each of its four visitation pods and hopes to have them up and running for visits by mid-December.

“These visitation pods are a wonderful solution for ongoing visitation as winter approaches,” says John Mastronardi, executive director at the Witherell. “Beyond the functionality, though, these pods are a reminder of how dedicated and passionate our staff is about serving our residents. We know that emotional connections are critical, and these pods support both the mental and physical well-being of our beloved residents.”

In addition to the visitation pods, the Witherell has also recently obtained and installed iMac computers on each floor to support virtual visits. The devices offer greater flexibility for residents to use Face Time, Zoom or Webex without needing an Apple iPhone. In addition, the Witherell offers headphones for privacy and for residents that have difficulty hearing.

“With the iMac devices, residents can connect with their loved ones through any portable device—an iPhone, PC or tablet. It offers more flexibility and enhances the quality of the connection for more seamless communication,” notes Vanterpool.

The Witherell requests that family members schedule visits through Sign Up Genius on its website or by clicking this link: Staff members are required to monitor visits to ensure that health and safety protocols are adhered to and to provide residents transport to and from visits.

“It’s our goal to make visitation as comfortable and accessible as possible,” notes Mastronardi. “Our residents and their family members have been extremely patient as we adapt to these new restrictions. We look forward to the day when visitation can return to normal, but until then, we’ll do everything we can to keep our residents connected to those they love.”







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