Long-term care center in Madisonville adds Hug Station

Local News

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (WEHT) As long-term care centers in Kentucky continue allowing a limited number of visitors for their residents, one Madisonville center has a new way for residents to safely reach out to their loved ones.

The Paragon of Madisonville built a hug station for them.

It’s made of plastic sheets, with gloves taped to holes and a frame made of PVC piping.

“You can see through it enough. You can get a good feel when you get a hug, see who you’re hugging,” explained Director and Co-Founder Maria Lee.

For Julia Smith and her daughter Kathy Higgins, it lets them be closer to each other than they have been since early Spring.

“My reaction was good. I said, ‘I finally get to hug somebody,'” said Smith.

Julia Smith, a resident at Paragon, hugs her daughter, Kathy Higgins, using the hug station.

“Mom and I talk on the phone daily, but to actually feel her is a whole different story. It makes you be able to get through these times a little bit better,” adds Higgins.

The hug station has been used for at least two weeks by Paragon residents and workers. Lee says she heard of the idea after seeing video of a teacher build one.

“Our staff is used to passing out hugs like sweet tea around here, We love our residents and we love to hug them, give them pats on the back. We haven’t been able to do that for three months,” she said.
Higgins says it’s been difficult for her family to be limited to talk to her mother through the phone.

“She consoles her children every day on the phone and we worry about her, but what we forget is mothers never stop worrying about their children and to feel her against my skin, it means the world to me and helps me get through this a little easier,” she says.

Smith and Higgins both say hugs like these can go a long way to help get everyone through these times.

“I have five children, so I’d like to be able to hug them all that way,” Smith says.

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(This story was originally published on July 7, 2020) 

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