ANHA says visitors are still allowed at Alabama nursing homes despite rising COVID cases

Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 6:23 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The number of new COVID cases continues to rise in our state leading some to wonder how nursing homes will handle visitors.

The Alabama Nursing Home Association is still following guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which was issued back in April.

So, visitors are still welcomed to see loved ones living at nursing homes, at least for now.

Spokesman for the Alabama Nursing Home Association, John Matson, said so far, there’s been no indication when, or if, the federal government will change the visitation status for nursing homes despite climbing cases of COVID.

“The federal government recognized that visitation being cut way back in March of 2020 had sometimes a detrimental effect because it was hard for nursing home residents to stay connected with their loved ones. So, we know the federal government and our regulators want nursing home residents to stay as connected as possible to their loved ones,” Matson explained.

He said while the guidance for visitors hasn’t changed, there is concern.

Matson said there appears to be a correlation between COVID outbreaks in nursing homes within weeks of an outbreak in the community.

“Even though 77% or 78% of Alabama nursing home residents are vaccinated for COVID-19 just know that as cases in your community increase that you could see an increase of cases in the nursing home,” Matson said.

Nursing homes across the state continue to screen visitors for symptoms of COVID taking temperatures and asking guests a series of questions related to COVID-19 before they’re allowed inside.

Steps to control the spread of the virus are also being taken.

“If there’s one case among a resident or staff member, the nursing home must temporarily close visitation and they’re instructed to test everyone: residents and staff. Once they receive the results back, from those tests then they can reopen visitation,” Matson said.

Matson added that if both you and your loved one are fully vaccinated, you can ditch the mask.

But nursing home staff is asking visitors to wear a facial covering as they enter and walk through the building.

They also want you to call before you arrive.

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