Alabama Nursing Home Association announces plan for indoor visits
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Nursing Home Association announced a plan to resume indoor visitations and continue outdoor visitations on Wednesday.
Visitors were prohibited prior to Wednesday unless the visitation was for an “end of life” or “compassionate care” situation.
The resumption of limited indoor visitations was made possible because of a change in guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and Governor Kay Ivey’s extension of the state health order.
According to the CMS guidance referenced in the amended state health order, visitors and nursing home staff must follow certain requirements for limited indoor visits.
The CMS guidance says, “we encourage facilities in medium and high-positivity counties to test visitors, if feasible. Facilities may also encourage visitors to be tested on their own prior to coming to the facility (within 2-3 days) with proof of negative test results and date of the test.”
Even though visitations are now allowed, visitors must practice social distancing and wear a mask at all times. This means loved ones are not permitted to hug and touch.
Visitors must also adhere to CMS' core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention and pass a health screening. Visitors who do not comply with the infection prevention requirements will not be allowed to visit.
According to CMS, nursing homes located in a county with a positivity rate of greater than 10% will not be allowed to offer indoor visitation.
For indoor visitation to occur, CMS says nursing homes must:
· Have no new onset of COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days and not be currently conducting outbreak testing
· Limit the number of visitors per resident
· Limit the number of visitors in the building at one time and limit visitors' movement inside the building
· Visitors must wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose and practice social distancing while visiting their loved one during their entire visit.
Violation of these policies could result in denial of future indoor visits.
CMS said outdoor visitation is still preferable to indoor visits and should be held whenever practicable. All visitors of Alabama nursing homes will need to schedule an appointment to visit their loved one.
“It’s important for nursing home residents and their family members to be able to visit in person and this is another step toward returning life to normal in nursing homes,” said Brandon Farmer, President & CEO of the Alabama Nursing Home Association in a statement.
“We are pleased CMS is moving in this direction and thankful Governor Kay Ivey and Dr. Scott Harris amended the state health order to accommodate this change. We are working closely with Governor Ivey’s administration and the Alabama Department of Public Health to help our members understand and implement these guidelines,” Farmer went on to say.
Nursing Home Visitor Do’s and Don’ts
· Do schedule an appointment to visit with your loved one
· Do use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before, during, and after your visit
· Do wear a mask covering your mouth and nose during your entire visit in the facility
· Do maintain a social distance of at least six feet from staff and residents
· Do keep out of areas that are not designated for visitation
· Don’t remove your mask while in the facility
· Don’t leave the designated visitation area
· Don’t come to the facility without an appointment
· Don’t come to the facility if you have any symptoms – coughing, sore throat, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell – even if you attribute these symptoms to some other cause (allergies or cold).
“Resident safety is our top priority as we expand visitation and the CMS guidelines will be closely followed. The public must continue to do its part to lower the spread of COVID-19. Decreasing community spread and consistent testing are key to our ability to offer indoor visits,” Farmer said.
The guidelines will go into effect on Oct. 2.
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