Visits could resume soon at some Alabama nursing homes

AARP calls for coronavirus testing and enforcement of guidelines in nursing homes.
AARP calls for coronavirus testing and enforcement of guidelines in nursing homes.(kplc)
Updated: Aug. 26, 2020 at 6:43 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Nursing Home Association says its member facilities are working towards reopening for in-person visits, but it must be done carefully and within federal and state guidelines.

“While reopening visitation is critically important, our top priority remains the health and safety of our residents and staff,” said Alabama Nursing Home Association President and CEO Brandon Farmer.

Farmer said Alabama’s nursing homes have made progress in caring for residents, and many are now COVID-19 free or have very few outbreaks.

“I must stress that nursing homes care for people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 and must protect the health and safety of residents and staff,” Farmer added. “Reopening will be a deliberate process and depends greatly on the status of the disease in the local community. We appreciate the patience and understanding of families as we care for their loved ones and look forward to seeing them soon.”

The association is encouraging members to allow in-person visitation as soon as they are safely able to do so within Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Alabama Department of Public Health parameters.

“CMS said nursing homes must consider the status of COVD-19 cases in their community and facility, access to PPE, testing for residents and staff, and other factors before reopening,” Farmer said.

The visits must not allow for physical contact, should be conducted outdoors, social distancing should be maintained, and visitors must be screened and wear a face covering.

“We want to be confident that we have made in-person visits as safe as possible before reopening. The last thing we want to do is jeopardize this progress and have to close our doors again after reopening them for visitation,” Farmer added.

On July 29, ADPH’s updated its statewide health order saying visitors should be limited at long-term care facilities. Previously, the order prohibited visitors at these facilities.

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