From the very beginning of this Coronavirus crisis, ALEH implemented numerous extreme measures to ensure the safety and continued health of our immunocompromised residents with severe disabilities. Without question, the most difficult regulation we had to enforce was banning visits from the family members of our residents in order to limit the risk of contaminating our sterile environment.
Though all of our ALEH parents understand the rationale behind this restriction, and have thanked us continually for keeping their beloved children safe, these last few weeks have been unbearable for them. To ease the pain of separation, our ALEH staff and volunteers have helped the parents maintain a close connection with their children via video conference, and we promised to let them know the moment they could visit in person.
Last week, after consulting with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, ALEH’s residential and rehabilitative village in the Negev was finally able to loosen its restriction on family visits and invited the ALEH parents to come see their children face-to-face for the first time in weeks. During this first phase, parents must wear masks and gloves, and contact with their children is not allowed, but these minor inconveniences have not dampened the mood at all and every family reunion has been a joyful one.
We were amazed to see one of the ALEH residents shout “Mom!” and “Dad!” when his parents came into view, and it was an incredibly touching moment when one of our nonverbal residents surprised everyone by saying “Schnitzel” when reuniting with her mother, referencing fond memories of her mother’s home cooked meals.
Another mother mentioned that her reunion with her son was one of the most powerful encounters they had ever experienced, and she felt more connected with her son than ever before. Though he cannot speak, just being together renewed their strong emotional bond.
ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran is a home and family for more than 160 residents with severe complex disabilities, where our dedicated staff and volunteers work day and night to provide the best possible medical and rehabilitative care in a warm and loving environment. Yet, in these moments, it is clear that nothing can replace the embrace of parents or sibling – these bonds are foundational and irreplaceable. Even though our tenants can’t tell us what they are thinking and feeling, their silences, facial expressions and twinkling eyes made it abundantly clear that they had longed to reconnect with their families.
We are so thankful to our ALEH families for allowing us partner with them in the care, rehabilitation and advancement of their amazing children and for trusting us to keep them safe and secure throughout these uncertain times. We are blessed to be part of your extended families!