Commentary

Updated Nursing Home Visitation Guidance from Centers for Medicare Services

New Visitation Guidance

This supersedes the article posted to this website September 30, 2020, in this matter.  On March 10, 2021, the Centers for Medicare Services updated its nursing home visitation guidance (see link below) in response to the highly successful administration of vaccines in nursing homes across the country, and corresponding decrease in the incidence of COVID-19 infection among nursing home residents and staff.  This new guidance is welcome news to all residents of nursing homes and their loved ones.

Under the new guidance, CMS continues to prefer outdoor visitation with nursing home residents, weather permitting, even when the resident and visitor are fully vaccinated.

However, indoor visitation should also be allowed at all times and for all residents (regardless of vaccination status), except when such visitation should be limited due to heightened risk of COVID-19 transmission.  Visitation may be limited for:

  1. Unvaccinated residents, if the nursing home’s COVID-19 positivity rate is greater than 10%, and if fewer than 70% of the nursing homes residents have been fully vaccinated.
  2. Residents with confirmed COVID-19 infection, whether vaccinated or not, until they have met criteria to discontinue Transmission-Based Precautions; or
  3. Residents in quarantine, whether vaccinated or not, until they have met criteria for release from quarantine.

 

Visitation should still be restricted under the new guidance, to visitors with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the previous 14 days, regardless of the visitor’s vaccination status.  Among other measures, CMS continues to recommend that all visitors observe hand hygiene (alcohol-based hand rub), face covering for mouth and nose, and social distancing of at least six feet. However, the new guidance also acknowledges the heavy toll that physical separation from loved ones has caused nursing home residents, and now allows physical contact, (including touch) with the resident, provided visitor and resident are wearing well-fitting face masks and perform hand hygiene both before and after contact. Visitors should continue to physically distance themselves from other residents and staff at all times.

https://www.cms.gov/medicareprovider-enrollment-and-certificationsurveycertificationgeninfopolicy-and-memos-states-and/nursing-home-visitation-covid-19-revised.

New Quarantine Guidance

At the same time, CMS also updated its quarantine guidance for nursing home residents. The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care has recently released a helpful grid that summarizes the new quarantine guidance, a copy of which can be found here.

For further information, or if you believe your loved one’s nursing home is not following the new CMS visitation or quarantine guidance, please contact the Long Term Care Ombudsman assigned to the nursing home, or visit https://theconsumervoice.org/get_help.

 

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