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Nursing homes set boundaries

As many as 500 kids usually visit Emmanuel Nursing Home on Halloween, trooping up and down the hallways, collecting candy and wowing resident with their cute or scary costumes.

Similar scenes play out at all area nursing homes.

Trick-or-treaters are still welcome this year, but they should expect some changes as nursing home administrators attempt to limit exposure to the flu.

"This year, with the H1N1 and the regular respiratory things going on, we decided to make it a little less invasive in our (nursing) homes, to curtail some of the illnesses," said Cheryl Krause, director of nursing at Emmanuel.

When she says "we decided" she means all four nursing directors at area nursing homes -- Oak Crossing at St. Mary's Innovis, the Frazee Care Center, Sunnyside Nursing Home near Lake Park and Emmanuel Nursing Home.

Halloween visitors can collect their loot and show off their costumes in the front lobby area at all four nursing homes, but they won't have free run of the hallways as in years past.

"Residents can still come out and see the costumes and such, but we're trying to avoid the 'droplet effect' (that comes with sneezing and close contact) and if they are a few feet away there's a better chance of not catching it," Krause said.

Here's the schedule for trick or treating. Visitors at all four nursing homes should use the main entrance:

Sunnyside Nursing Home-- 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Frazee Care Center -- 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Oak Crossing -- 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Emmanuel Nursing Home -- 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

"We still encourage kids to come out," Krause said. "Our residents love to see the costumes."

The restrictions will not affect the housing units at Emmanuel, she added.

"We open up the dining area -- people come down if they want to give out candy. We're not changing that at all, because residents have the ability to choose if they want to participate."