Amie Holt Care Center is seeking volunteers to screen and check in visitors.

Volunteers will take guests’ temperatures, screen them for COVID-19 symptoms and ensure that they are wearing face coverings, which are now required throughout each visit, according to Jodi Verplancke, Johnson County Healthcare Center’s social worker and volunteer coordinator.

Visitation was suspended at the center for 12 months amid the coronavirus pandemic until March of this year. Since then, visitors have been allowed in the center as long as they wear face coverings, said Brenda Gorm, care center director. Guests and residents have had to visit in residents’ rooms rather than in common areas.

Johnson County Healthcare Center announced a move to outdoor visitation on Aug. 30 after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Visitors will be screened at the front door and required to wear a mask and follow social distancing protocols, the release says. Visitors are also asked to call 30 minutes in advance of their visit so residents can be assisted outside.

Despite some restrictions to protect patients from the coronavirus, Gorm said, it’s been beneficial for residents to see their families.

“It’s made a huge difference to the residents to have their lives feel more normal,” Gorm said. “Families are now free and encouraged to come as long as they check in and don’t have any symptoms.”

Verplancke said the care center needs volunteers weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The center currently has five volunteers and two paid screeners who work four-hour shifts. She hopes to bring enough volunteers in to have two-hour shifts.

Gorm said the volunteer role is important to continuing visitation at the care center.

“It does make all the difference in our ability to keep functioning without having to keep stopping and checking people in,” Gorm said. “Sometimes, it's a pretty quiet area if we don't have any visitors, but when they show up, we're sure happy to have the volunteers.”

Verplancke said all of the care center’s residents are vaccinated against COVID-19. The center recommends that guests who are not vaccinated visit their loved ones outdoors to prevent the spread of the virus inside the facility.

“It is absolutely devastating to people when they can't see their families, and without our volunteers, we can't provide those visitations,” Verplancke said. “Not all of our staff, but all of our residents have (been vaccinated), which is a plus for us, because then we can keep it open more for visitations as our numbers are increasing. Some facilities, they aren't all vaccinated and . . . they have to shut down and they don’t get their visits again. And that is so devastating for those people.”

Anyone interested in volunteering at the care center should contact Verplancke at 684-5521.

Alex joined the Bulletin in March 2021 and covers health care, energy and natural resources. Reach out with ideas or comments at alex@buffalobulletin.com.

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