The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidelines for visitation rules in skilled nursing facilities this week. In an article published by Skilled Nursing News, it was stated that the federal government is allowing “responsible indoor visitations at all times and for all residents” with some exceptions.
CMS chief medical officer Dr. Lee Fleisher was quoted saying, “CMS recognizes the psychological, emotional and physical toll that prolonged isolation and separation from family have taken on nursing home residents and their families.” Allowing family and friends to visit will have a positive impact on the overall health of the residents.
On-going vaccinations in skilled nursing facilities have contributed to decreased infection rates and deaths caused by COVID-19. Nursing homes first closed their doors about a year ago in the last March when the pandemic was first declared. After a year of no visitations, they are ready to open their doors.
This announcement comes shortly after an announcement made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this week allowing small gatherings of vaccinated individuals.
There will be additional guidelines that nursing home operators will have to abide by that will limit indoor visits. Residents who have not been vaccinated will not be allowed to have visitors if the county COVID-19 positive rate is greater than 10% and less than 70% of the residents in the nursing home have been completely vaccinated. Additionally residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to have visitors along with resident who are quarantining. On a positive note, visitations will still be allowed during outbreaks. The nursing home should however have the outbreak contained in a specific unit or wing. Visits will be allowed if a resident is in an end-of-life state.
CMS still advises on having outdoor visits with social distancing especially if certain individuals in the group have not been vaccinated. Visitors will not be required to show proof of vaccinations before their visit. Additionally, both state and federal surveyors also do not have to be vaccinated before entering the premises.
This news of allowing visitations has been well received by leading members of the long-term care industry including LeadingAge and the American Healthcare Association.