New nursing home visitation guidelines start Friday

NY Capitol News

UPDATE: New York state sent a press release with a link to full guidance for Revised Skilled Nursing Facility Visitation. Information and a link to the full guidance have been added to the story in italics.

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York state released new guidelines for visitation at nursing homes that will go into effect on Friday, February 26. Howard Zucker, NYS Health Commissioner, laid out the preliminary recommendations in four parts with much of the guidance dependant on a county’s rate of COVID-19 transmission.

According to Governor Cuomo, this change comes with the current vaccination rates at nursing homes: 100% of nursing home residents/staff members have been offered the vaccine, and 73% of residents have been vaccinated.

Zucker stated that testing for visitation will depend on the county’s transmission rate. If the county has less than a 5% transmission rate, no testing is required for visitation. But if the county has a 5 to 10% transmission rate, the visitor must be tested within 72 hours of arriving at the facility. 

“The testing can be either through a PCR test or a Binax—rapid testing. And we will help with the nursing to provide the testing—Binax,” Zucker said.

However, if the county has a transmission rate that’s greater than 10%, no visitation is permitted except for compassionate care visits. 

Facilities should use the COVID-19 county positivity rates, found on the CMS COVID-19 Nursing Home Data site,” the Department of Health stated in the full guidance for Revised Skilled Nursing Facility Visitation.

To determine a county’s transmission rate and eligibility for visitations, facilities and family members can visit the CMS website.

“The other reason you would have to restrict visitation is if there has been a case in the past 14 days. And this is the CMS guidelines on this.” Zucker said. Also, if a visitor is fully vaccinated and within 90 days of their second dose, there’s no requirement to get tested for visitation.

The guidelines also hope to limit movement and possible over-crowding at facilities during visitations.

Facilities should limit movement in the facility, including limiting visitors from walking
around different halls of the facility. Instead, visitors should go directly to the resident’s
room or designated visitation area
,” the Department of Health stated.

The maximum number of visitors must not exceed 20% of the facility’s residents at any time.

“Facilities must have policies widely communicated to residents, staff and visitors that
limit the number of visitors per resident at one time and limit the total number of visitors
in the facility at one time (based on the size of the building and physical space),” the DOH stated.

“Facilities should consider scheduling visits for a specified length of time to help ensure all
residents are able to receive visitors.”

And last, the state will be working with facilities on designating a separate room for visitors or making sure residents are alone in their room when the visit occurs. The full guidelines for Revised Skilled Nursing Facility Visitation can be found here.

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