Families can begin visiting loved ones in nursing homes Friday under new state guidance

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After waiting nearly a year for a chance to see loved ones in nursing homes, New York State is allowing visitation to resume Friday, but many facilities haven’t met the mark to welcome people back in under the new guidance.

For Loretto, the facility actually started accepting visitors again this week for the first time since last summer, but that was based on old guidance, which allowed fewer visitors. Management says they’ll be taking those new guidelines and welcoming more people starting Wednesday, March 3.

“These families being able to come back in and see their loved ones, for the loved ones to see their family members, it just, it really warms the hearts of our staff to be back at that stage again. It’s been a rough several months for everybody,” said Julie Sheedy, Chief Marketing Officer for Loretto. 

Town of Elbridge resident, Joe Patrick, was reunited with his parents after nearly a year as the first visitor to be welcomed back into Loretto on Wednesday.

“It was wonderful, yeah, it was wonderful,” he said.

Patrick says both of his parents suffer from dementia, which has made communicating via phone calls and FaceTime difficult.

“With the type of disease that they have, a year is a long time, it’s a very long time, and you can’t get it back. You’ve lost that time, you can’t make it up, so it was a little challenging, but we made truly the best of it,” he said.

The Regional Ombudsman Program Coordinator at ARISE, Rebecca Alder, says the families she serves are eager to get back into these facilities but wish the guidelines weren’t so restrictive.

“A lot of residents have been vaccinated and many family members have been vaccinated as well, so I think families have a little frustration that there’s still this 14-day quarantine period seeing that the majority of residents at this point have been vaccinated,” she said.

Under the new guidance, most importantly, nursing homes must be COVID-free for 14 days before welcoming visitors.

Then the rules of visitation depend on the county’s overall positivity rate.

POSITIVITY RATEREGULATIONS
5% or lessTesting is not required but encouraged
5% – 10%Testing is required within 72 hours of visiting
10% or moreVisitation is not allowed except for compassionate care visits

The state says it will pay for testing, which for facilities like Loretto, is a relief after already taking on many added costs. But Loretto says it will be able to offer testing on-site for families.

“The real difference is going to be, how we adjust the timing and the capacity to provide the tests, but we have space in our building where we already do testing twice a week–so it really changes in logistics for our visitors,” said Sheedy.

Visits will also be limited based on the capacity of the building. At any one point in time, no more than 20% of the residents can have visitors.

Those visits also need to happen in a separate, designated area or families can go into a resident’s room as long as they are not sharing a room with others.

For visitors 16 years or younger, they will need to be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older. Every visitor passing through the doors will also undergo a health screening and will be required to leave information for contact tracing.

If you or a loved one is in need of visitation assistance you can visit the ARISE website here or call their hotline at (315) 671-5108.

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