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New guidelines released to allow outdoor nursing home visits

By September 2, 2020No Comments

Orders issued this week will allow families to visit outdoors with residents of skilled nursing facilities.

North Carolina Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen issued the order on Tuesday when Gov. Roy Cooper announced the state will move to Safer at Home Phase 2.5. It goes into effect Friday, Sept. 4.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) in South Carolina will also allow visitation, if strict guidelines are followed.

The facilities must not have a current outbreak and must have a written testing plan and action plan based on testing in place. They must also be able to maintain staffing levels and have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Requirements for visitation in North Carolina include:

  • Visitors must be screened for fever or other symptoms associated with COVID-19;
  • Visitors must wear a mask at all times;
  • Visitors will be limited to no more than two individuals at a time per resident. Children must be able to wear a face covering or mask during the entire visitation and remain with their guardian;
  • Visitors, residents and staff must use alcohol-based hand rub before and after visit;
  • Visitors must remain at least 6 feet apart from residents except for compassionate care circumstances, such as end of life scenarios;
  • Visitors are not permitted if anyone is showing signs of respiratory illness or other COVID-19 symptoms.

This secretarial order from Cohen is in effect until September 22, unless rescinded or replaced with a superseding secretarial order.

Requirements in South Carolina by the DHEC include:

  • Screening of residents for any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 infection with documentation is occurring at least daily and for staff at the start of each shift;
  • There have been no cases among staff and residents identified in the facility within the last 14 days;
  • For a nursing home, testing must be occurring per CMS requirements before visitation may begin at the facility;
  • Two visitors will be allowed per patient at one time;
  • Visitors must use alcohol-based hand rub upon entering and exiting the outdoor visitation location;
  • A visit is limited to 15 minutes, unless a person provides documentation of a negative COVID-19 test or positive antibody test, which will allow them to visit up to one hour;
  • No visitors under the age of 12 are allowed, unless there are special family circumstances approved by the facility.

Visitations must be suspended if one or more cases are identified in residents and/or staff members, but may resume after CMS testing protocols are completed and fewer than three total cases have been identified.

If three or more cases are identified in staff members and/or residents within a 14-day period, visitation must be suspended. It may resume 14 days after the identification of the last case.

To read the full order from North Carolina, click https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/Secretarial-Order-3.pdf

For more information on the South Carolina guidelines, click here https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/media/document/Outdoor-Visitation-Guidelines_9.1.20.pdf

Erin Kidd

Author Erin Kidd

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