What are the new guidelines for nursing home visits?
What are the new guidelines for nursing home visits?
US Allows Indoor Visits in Nursing Homes. Here's What to Know.
13 March, 2021, 17:12
The new guidance comes after nursing home residents and staff received priority in receiving COVID-19 vaccination.
Federal officials issued revised guidelines for nursing homes on Wednesday, saying people should now be allowed to visit residents indoors in most cases.
Compassionate care visits should be allowed at all times, the guidance said, even if there's an outbreak or a resident is unvaccinated.
COVID-19 positivity rate is above 10 percent in the country, or if less than 70% of residents at the facility have not been vaccinated. It is recommended that unvaccinated residents who wish to become vaccinated should not start indoor visitation until they have been fully vaccinated.
When the first vaccinations in the USA started in mid-December, nursing homes were put at the top of the priority list.
What do the new CDC and CMS guidelines mean for visitation restrictions at hospitals and nursing homes? Vaccines authorized by the government for emergency use, developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, require two shots.
"C.M.S. recognizes the psychological, emotional and physical toll that prolonged isolation and separation from family have taken on nursing home residents and their families", Lee A. Fleisher, MD, the CMS chief medical officer, said in a news release. The recently authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one dose.
For those reasons, the guidance says, a fully vaccinated nursing home resident "can choose to have close contact (including touch) with their visitor while wearing a well-fitting face mask and performing hand-hygiene before and after".
CMS said that outdoor visits are "preferred even when the resident and visitor are fully vaccinated" because of the reduced risk of transmission compared to indoor visits.
The pandemic has had an outsized impact on nursing homes since the first coronavirus outbreak occurred in a nursing home in Washington state about a year ago.
Due to the federal vaccine rollout and lower COVID-19 positivity rates, CMS guidance allows facilities to safely expand visitation options during the pandemic.
In order to mitigate the risk of relaxing restrictions, vaccinating residents and staff in long-term care facilities and continued adherence to prevention measures, including the 3 Ws - wear, wait, wash - are still the safest approach to reducing the spread of COVID-19.
The first CMS nursing home guidance, nearly a year ago to the day, restricted all visitors and nonessential health workers, except for compassionate care visits, which were to be held in a single, designated room. According to the American Health Care Association, there has been a 90% drop in COVID-19 cases in nursing homes in the last three months, an astounding statistic that exemplifies the safety and effectiveness of the newly-approved vaccines.
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