Signature HealthCARE may remain closed to visitors

(Photo: Signature HealthCARE website)

By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Although Gov. Bill Lee announced this week that nursing home facilities would reopen for limited visitation, Signature HealthCARE has made the decision to remain closed to visitors until further notice.

“Our diligence in identifying and containing the virus’s spread is a 24/7 responsibility and commitment for the safety of our residents and staff. It is for this very reason, as we strive to gain the upper hand on this viral enemy, that no Signature HealthCARE facility in Tennessee will reopen for limited visitation on June 15,” said the company in a statement issued late Friday. 

The company further emphasized, “compliance with this plan is not mandatory or required; each facility can choose whether to allow such limited visitation, but only if that facility can meet the strict reopening guidelines, protocols and prerequisites the Governor has set out.”

Here’s the full statement from the company:

Louisville, Ky.- June 12, 2020– From the beginning of this global pandemic, Signature HealthCARE has taken an aggressive, coordinated and proactive approach to combat the invisible and virulent Coronavirus and its corresponding illness, COVID-19. We are celebrating more recoveries each and every day, indicating our fight is producing positive outcomes, but the battle in our long-term healthcare facilities is far from over. Our diligence in identifying and containing the virus’s spread is a 24/7 responsibility and commitment for the safety of our residents and staff. It is for this very reason, as we strive to gain the upper hand on this viral enemy, that no Signature HealthCARE facility in Tennessee will reopen for limited visitation on June 15th. But we are working hard every day to devise a plan that will permit us to re-open facilities, as soon as possible, under CMS guidelines and the direction from the Department of Health. 

Signature HealthCARE has carefully considered Governor Bill Lee’s plan to permit limited in-person visitation at nursing home facilities starting June 15. What many members of the public do not understand, and the media needs to make clear is compliance with this plan is not mandatory or required; each facility can choose whether to allow such limited visitation, but only if that facility can meet the strict reopening guidelines, protocols and prerequisites the Governor has set out. 

For example, at this time, because of the strict prerequisites the state has imposed, some of our facilities are in the nine counties that the state has declared ineligible to reopen. Furthermore, completion of facility wide testing, one of the first prerequisites to the Governor’s plan, is currently underway in several of our facilities. Signature is working to complete facility wide testing for all staff and residents in our facilities following the schedule directed by the Department of Health. 

Facility-wide testing is not the only prerequisite to reopening. Several more include: 

• Weekly Staff COVID-19 Testing: Once a nursing home or long-term care facility has completed initial testing, under the Governor’s plan, each facility also must test all staff members for COVID-19 at least once every seven (7) days beginning June 30, 2020 or the date the facility completes initial testing. 

• No new COVID-19 cases in the previous 28 days: A facility cannot have any positive cases in staff or residents for at least 28 days before visitation. This prerequisite certainly affects many Tennessee nursing homes throughout the state, not just Signature communities. 

• A COVID Stable Community: In order to re-open a facility, the surrounding community must be considered unburdened by the virus. As mentioned, the state has already declared select counties ineligible from any limited visitation – and we operate in many of those counties. 

“We all look forward to the day when residents, families, and staff can celebrate and hug in person,” said Signature State Operations President, Steve Fleming. “But we must reach this goal safely, and with a plan in place that cannot be rushed or compromised, for the safety of all involved.” 

Signature HealthCARE strongly upholds the importance of family visitation and engagement. We will continue to keep our residents uplifted and connected using alternate methods of communication for families, including telehealth, social media, and the mailing of cards and letters. We hope, in the very near future, these will be secondary to in-person visits with family. 

We are in this fight together and our goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy as we all get through this unprecedented time of COVID-19. We thank our communities for their understanding. 

Michelle Price is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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