SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR) — After waiting nearly a year for a chance to see loved ones in nursing homes, New York 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. 

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.

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.