Visiting Great-Grandma During COVID-19: A Story From Greater Regional Hospice Home

There's nothing quite like the connection between a child and their grandparent or great-grandparent.

Izzy and Avvy Curtis have experienced that firsthand when it comes to their 95-year-old great grandma, Harriet Garrett.

Before the current COVID-19 situation materialized, the girls would visit their great grandma regularly, even when she moved into EveryStep's Greater Regional Hospice Home in Creston.

Those visits and the games of UNO they all enjoy came to an abrupt end last week as the COVID-19 pandemic escalated in Iowa.

At that time, EveryStep implemented changes to its visitor policy at its two hospice homes - Kavanagh House on 56th Street in Des Moines and Greater Regional Hospice Home.

Under the new, temporary policy, patients are limited to two visitors at a time, and they must be adults ages 18 and older.

Izzy is 13 and Avvy is 11. Still, the girls weren't deterred when it came to finding a way to see their great grandma.

"I told them with this COVID-19 we have to protect the patients and can't allow anyone under the age of 18," says Misha Curtis, EveryStep Hospice team director at Greater Regional Hospice Home and the girls' mother. "My littlest, Avvy said, 'well, you tell me I act 18, why can't I go in?’"

While the girls have used FaceTime and written their great grandma letters, it still wasn't the same as seeing her in person.

That's when the girls decided to visit their great grandma from outside the hospice house.

The quick visit entailed the girls standing on the Greater Regional Hospice Home patio while Harriet sat comfortably on the other side of the glass door.

"They were able to talk to her but she couldn’t hear or talk very well; however, it brought tears to her to see how much they wanted to see her and love her," Misha recalls of the visit.

Since then, the girls have been able to make frequent visits to Harriet though the patio doors, including one in which Harriet received an early - disinfected - Easter basket the girls put together for her. 

For more information on EveryStep's temporary visitor policies and coronavirus response, visit our dedicated COVID-19 webpage