CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) recently announced new long term care visitation guidance. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Rhode Island Department of Health, who oversee long term care facilities in their respective states, implemented state-specific visitation guidance which we have outlined below.
Inasmuch as we understand the toll restricted visits have placed on our residents and their loved ones, we must acknowledge that safety measures are still very much needed. While we have seen a drastic decrease in cases since vaccinations, we are all aware and wary of the recent outbreak in a Kentucky long term care facility. Twenty-seven residents recently became infected. Although we do not know the timeframe between the last dose of the vaccine and date of infection, the State of Kentucky is reporting 71 residents, which accounts for 85% of the facility resident population, were vaccinated. Thirty percent of the vaccinated residents were showing symptoms and one vaccinated resident was transferred to the hospital. Four unvaccinated residents were transferred to the hospital. Officials believe this outbreak is due to an unknown variant.
We cannot let our guard down. We must stay vigilant. We need to balance resident safety with their psychosocial wellbeing. And we need your help to do so. Masks, social distancing, and frequent handwashing continue to be key to reducing the risk of spreading infection. While we cannot require it, we encourage visitors to test before visiting their loved one. We can test on-site with results in 15 minutes. You are not only protecting your loved one, but you are also protecting all the other residents in the facility. We also ask that you get vaccinated as soon as possible. While vaccines may not prevent infection, it should reduce serious symptoms, hospitalizations, and death. The more people vaccinate, the sooner we can eradicate this pandemic. We ask for patience as we ease into new visitation protocols.
To maintain safety, we will continue to require visitors to call ahead to schedule visits. Outside visits, weather permitting, and virtual visits are the preferred methods for visitation. All visitors will be screened prior to the in-person visit and will be asked to wash their hands prior, during and after their visit. Anyone who has had close contact with a positive individual within 14 days of the visit will be restricted from visiting. We also ask that visitors notify the facility if they develop symptoms within 2 days after visiting the facility.
Update Guidance as of 3/19/2021
Fully vaccinated visitors may visit fully vaccinated residents in the resident’s room. If there is a roommate, the roommate must also be fully vaccinated. A fully vaccinated individual is someone who is 14 days or more past their final dose on a vaccination series. This would be the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, and the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If both the resident and visitor are fully vaccinated, they do not have to social distance, but both must wear a mask. If either is not fully vaccinated, visits will continue in the facility’s designated area. Masks are required and brief contact is permitted.
Visits will be suspended on a unit if a resident who resides on that unit or staff member who worked on that unit tests positive. The visits will remain suspended until 14 days pass with no new infections.
Rhode Island Guidance
Visits may occur in a designated location or resident room. Only one visitor is allowed in the room. If there is a roommate, the roommate must be fully vaccinated. A fully vaccinated resident may have close contact with a loved one if both are wearing well-fitting masks with no gaps. This may include a N95, medical, or 2-ply or higher mask.
Visits may be suspended if there is more than one new case within the facility.
Please contact the facility for additional information or guidance.