New nursing home visitation guidelines to begin in NY

New York News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Starting Thursday, families can visit loved ones in nursing homes after the New York State Department of Health released new guidelines on nursing home visitations.

The CEO of Daughters of Sarah Nursing Center in Albany said he and his team are excited for visits, but they’re not quite ready, yet.

“We’re hopefully looking for next week,” CEO Mark Koblenz said. “We’re actually in the process right now to finalize the plan.”

Since March, nursing homes across the state stopped in-person visits. During the coronavirus pandemic, aside from using Skype calls, Daughters of Sarah Nursing Center held window visits. Now, they’re gearing up to allow outdoor visits, but more planning needs to be done.

“We have received emails from people wanting to come visit,” Koblenz said.

“Really, where we are in New York State, and in nursing homes in particular, is the positivity rate is well below one percent if not zero,” Stephen Hanse, CEO of New York State Health Facilities Association said. “Majority of the nursing homes throughout New York have no COVID in them, either with residents or with staff.”

“We feel very confident, we feel that we can do it in a safe, secure manner,” Koblenz assured.

As part of the change, all visitors must have a negative COVID-19 test within seven days before visiting. 

“There’s some logistical problems and hurdles with the provision of the state’s guidance that we’re just trying to work through now,” Hanse said.

If there are not active COVID cases inside a nursing facility within a 14-day period, the state department of health will allow visitors.

“Throughout the state, we had maybe upwards 150 nursing homes who were able to open up visitations with the 28-day requirement,” Hanse said. “We anticipate that with the reduction to 14 days, it will at least double — if not more — the number of nursing homes that will be able to open up visitation.”

“I’m very glad they changed it. It’s been very hard on families.”

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