The federal government issued another set of nursing home visitation guidelines. CMS now allows for resuming indoor visits based on community COVID-19 spread. Operators should “accommodate and support” indoor visits as long as no new COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days. Outdoor visits remain preferred under the new rules with CMS noting that they should be held “whenever practicable.” Visitors must adhere to those core principles.
CMS unveiled the new recommendations with a set of “core principles of COVID-19 infection prevention” listed as follows:
- Screening of all who enter the facility for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., temperature checks, questions or observations about signs or symptoms), and denial of entry of those with signs or symptoms
- Hand hygiene (use of alcohol-based hand rub is preferred)
- Face covering or mask (covering mouth and nose)
- Social distancing at least six feet between persons
- Instructional signage throughout the facility and proper visitor education on COVID-19 signs and symptoms, infection control precautions, other applicable facility practices (e.g., use of face covering or mask, specified entries, exits and routes to designated areas, hand hygiene)
- Cleaning and disinfecting high frequency touched surfaces in the facility often, and designated visitation areas after each visit
- Appropriate staff use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Effective cohorting of residents (e.g., separate areas dedicated COVID-19 care)
- Resident and staff testing conducted as required at 42 CFR 483.80(h)
Operators can still deny in-person visits based on a variety of factors. The factors including their county’s infection rates, the presence of COVID-19 cases in the building, or visitor symptoms.
The Coronavirus Commission on Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes recommended that CMS update visitation guidance because visitation is a vital right for residents.