LOUISVILLE – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), issued new nursing home visitation guidelines on March 10, 2021. These new guidelines reflect the extraordinary progress made in the fight against COVID19 by the successful implementation of vaccines within our facilities and the dedication and commitment of the heroic staffs to care for our nation’s most vulnerable population. As a result, Signature HealthCARE’s facilities will be reopening to allow responsible in-person visitation for our residents and families in accordance with the new guidelines.
As the facilities diligently prepare for reopening, please note, outdoor visitation will always be the preferred manner for in-person visitation. This strictly follows the recommended CMS guidelines, which advocates outdoor visitation whenever practicable, as outdoor visits pose a lower risk of transmission due to increased space and airflow.
It is important to remember, even with many in our population being vaccinated for COVID-19 and with the new guidelines being implemented to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission, these actions do not and will not completely eliminate the risk. Therefore, as our nursing home populations still remain vulnerable to COVID-19 and other viruses, like the flu, our communities and families are asked to diligently adhere to the new guidelines in each of the facilities, as set by CMS and their specific states. They include but are not limited to:
- Visitor screening, including temperature checks, a COVID-19 questionnaire and symptom observation, all which must be passed.
- Precautionary infection control measures, including hand hygiene requirements.
- Visitor masks (covering mouth and nose) and other personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements.
- In advance scheduling of visits. **IMPORTANT** Unscheduled or walk-in visits are not permitted.
- Visitor social distancing at least 6 feet apart from all persons.
- Limited visitation times so all residents can be accommodated.
- Posting of facility signage indicating COVID-19 signs, symptoms and best mitigation practices.
- Residents and staff COVID-19 testing, as regulations require.
While CMS does not require visitors to be fully vaccinated, their guidelines and Signature HealthCARE strongly encourage visitors be fully vaccinated for the utmost protection of loved ones in long-term care facilities. Furthermore, facilities may still prevent visitation based on a variety of factors under the new guidelines. In particular:
- Unvaccinated residents will not be permitted to have visitors if the surrounding county’s COVID-19 positive rate is above 10%, or less than 70% of residents in a
facility have been fully vaccinated.
- Residents who have been confirmed COVID-19 positive will not be able to receive visitors until they meet testing criteria that allows discontinuation of transmission-based protocols.
- Quarantined residents cannot accept visitors until criteria is met to be released from quarantine.
- If a new case of COVID-19 is identified within a facility, visitation will be suspended until one round of facility-wide testing is complete to determine needed protocols.
“We have looked forward to the day when our residents, families and staff could once again enjoy seeing loved ones in-person,” said E. Joseph Steier, III, president and CEO of Signature HealthCARE. “Now, that time has finally come. We know from our own separation from our families how difficult these days have been. We cannot thank our families and communities enough for your gracious understanding, thoughts, prayers and support during these challenging days and it gives us great pleasure to begin reopening our doors again under these new government guidelines. We are all in this pandemic fight together, and our goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy as we continue to press on toward brighter days.”