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Birchaven Village Announces Full Reopening to Visitors


Birchaven Village, a division of Blanchard Valley Health System, is pleased to announce it has fully reopened its doors to visitors.

This means that family members can engage in all the usual activities with residents that they did before the COVID-19 pandemic, such as accompanying their loved ones to the salon as they get their hair done, joining them for a meal or taking them out in the community to go shopping.

“This is home for our residents,” said Judith A. Bishop-Pierce, interim director of residential care. “And when children and grandchildren visit someone at their home, they want to feel comfortable and able to engage in the activities they might at any other home.”

Skilled nursing facilities had to follow strict regulations set by state and federal officials throughout the pandemic. After closing entirely to visitors at the start of the pandemic, Birchaven gradually reopened more and more. But it wasn’t until this spring that all pandemic restrictions were lifted, both at Birchaven and Independence House in Fostoria.

Bishop-Pierce said associates at Birchaven had worked to be creative with social interaction during the pandemic restrictions, such as arranging outdoor gatherings or window visits.

These strategies did help improve morale. But each time restrictions lifted a little more, the smiles on the faces of residents and their families grew bigger, said Krista Finsel, manager of admissions and community outreach.

“It’s truly a joy to watch them spend quality time together now that we’re fully open,” Finsel said. “Spirits are up, and we’re seeing such bonding and laughter and hugging.”

The reopening also means residents who are undergoing rehabilitation after an injury or surgery can now have their loved ones by their side as they exercise and work to regain their strength. And community members who know they have an upcoming surgery, and are looking for a place for rehabilitation, can now take “VIP tours” at Birchaven.

Future community events are also in the works. While a July Fourth fireworks is not planned for 2023, Bishop-Pierce said events like that would be held on the premises in the future.

Birchaven’s café will open later this month.

Bishop-Pierce is relatively new in her role at Birchaven.

“It has been enjoyable to help reopen,” she said. “Our associates worked hard to keep spirits up as much as possible during the pandemic restrictions. But now, we get to take down the last of the signs telling people to stay six feet apart, and we’re seeing things get back to normal.”

Residents are now also getting to interact with the “grand friends” at the Marilyn & Gordon Macklin Intergenerational Institute childcare facility on the premises. These babies and young children spend time with seniors living at Birchaven both in structured time together and occasional visits. With the pandemic, this too wasn’t possible, but has now resumed, Finsel said.

Birchaven continues to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols. Visitors are asked not to come to the facility if they are feeling sick.

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