State releases new visitation guidelines for nursing homes

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On Thursday, the New York State Health Department released new guidelines regarding nursing home visitation. These would replace the guidelines that were put in place back in February.

The mandatory 14-day shutdown has been removed if there is a positive test, but local nursing homes say they still need to be cautious when a positive test is confirmed.

“We would have to close temporarily and complete a series of tests,” said Julie Sheedy, the Chief Marketing Officer at Loretto.

She says that could take three to seven days.

“If there are no new positives, then yes we can reopen, but if there is a positive that is identified as a result of that contact with that visitor or an exposure to that visitor, we could be subject to close down of up to 14 days, depending on the situation,” Sheedy said.

Sheedy says if the case is isolated and they can control it, they won’t have to shut down the entire facility.

Jan Barry, whose mother has dementia and is in a nursing home in Rochester, said these updated guidelines will greatly help her mother because she will now be allowed to visit her more.

“I think with us around, she does feel very special because we came to see her and not anybody else,” said Barry.

Each nursing home will create their own guidelines.

This is from Loretto:

These changes are significant and another positive step forward for residents and families who need to reconnect with loved ones, what’s most important is that we have to be able to continue to conduct visitation safely, and have the staffing needed to support the new changes. Each facility needs to determine what’s feasible based on a facility’s structure, time for staff training, and the ability to ensure proper distancing and monitoring. We will be communicating to families once we understand what we are able to accommodate safely.

While the mandatory 14-day shutdown has been removed, if we have a new positive, we will still need to close temporarily conduct testing on all staff and residents and we could still be required to shut down for 14 days.

Visits will continue to take place in designated visitation areas, we are not equipped to have guests to visit individual resident rooms at this time given the supervising and tracking requirements. And with the warmer weather, we are exploring options for safe outdoor visitation, as the guidelines indicate that outdoor visitation is preferred even when the resident and visitor are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In cases where a resident is fully vaccinated, the guidelines allow family members to touch their loved one provided they are properly wearing a mask and performing hand hygiene before and after.  But if there’s contact [for example holding hands or hugging], and the visitor then tests positive, we could be shut down for 14 days based on the outcomes of contact tracing and testing. We will continue to strongly encourage social distancing and limited contact to ensure the continued safety of all residents and staff, and it will be critically important for any visitor to notify us immediately if they’ve tested positive or had a direct exposure after a visit.

While COVID testing is not mandated in the revised guidelines it is strongly encouraged. If a family member is not vaccinated and does not have a negative test result [now within 48-72 hours of their visit], we will have rapid tests for visitors at no charge prior to their visit. We are still in an active pandemic and new variants are popping up in our community. We need to approach this cautiously and safely.

Families will need to continue to follow our strict visitation protocols:

  • Visitors must adhere to all infection control protocols, must wear a mask at ALL times, still must properly socially distance and we will continue to use plexiglass barriers.
  • Visitors will be screened at one of our Accushield Kiosks in the lobby and have their temperatures taken.
  • Visits will have time limits and we will continue with a guest limit per visit to enable proper social distancing and every family member has an opportunity to see their loved one.

Facilities will open at different times, so people should check our website for information specific to the facility they want to visit.

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