Seniors Use “Hugging Booth” During In-Person Family Visits at The Phoebe Allentown Health Care Center

Allentown, PA- Senior residents living in the Phoebe Allentown Health Care Center now have the opportunity to share safe hugs with their loved ones during in-person visits. After several months of quarantine to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Phoebe Allentown began the stages of reopening on Monday, August 20 by offering outdoor, in-person visits, by reservation, to their health care center.  Kelly Bock, director of environmental services for Phoebe Allentown, had a bigger vision. “I wanted our residents to be able to touch the people they love…even if it’s through 10-gauge plastic”, says Bock who altered a design she saw on social media.

The “hugging booth” incorporates plastic barriers ensuring safety while giving residents the experience of physical contact. The structure, built by her dedicated crew, is bigger and more adjustable than any other she found, using disposable veterinary gloves that cover both huggers’ hands and arms. “You can actually feel the warmth of the hug,” says Bock. Phoebe carefully disinfects the booth after each use. Using disposable gloves helps to streamline the experience while also offering a more personal touch. Other designs use permanent gloves that aren’t as flexible and as easily sanitized.

Loved ones of residents can visit and book an in-person visit from accessing the associated link on our COVID-19 information page, where they can complete a form and choose an available appointment time from the calendar. Staff at Phoebe has been hard at work to iron out all of the logistics that go into scheduling residents for visits with their loved ones, transporting residents safely to the hugging booths, sanitizing the booth between appointment times, and even building similar hugging booths for use at all of Phoebe’s other communities.

Phoebe will continue to follow step-by-step reopening processes put in place by the PA State Dept. of Health protecting both residents and employees. All Phoebe campuses have future plans to incorporate Bock’s “hugging booth” into their reopening plans during family visits.